This weekend, Cal Expo is hosting a California-New Zealand Friendship Challenge for amateur drivers from California and New Zealand. Being for years the traditional importation route for New Zealand horses was to come from the Land of the Kiwis and stop in California to race and then depending on their success in the Sunshine State, they would either stay in California or make their way East.
Those of you who live near Cal Expo should come on out and support the amatuers from both countries, especially on Saturday night when they have their $15,000 guaranteed Pick 4 pool with the 0% takeout on track (and via Twinspires). It promises to be an interesting evening.
Here is the press release about the event.
California-New Zealand Friendship Challenge Gets Underway At Cal Expo
Friday (April 29) & Saturday (April 30) night at Cal Expo will find the California-New Zealand Friendship Challenge, with four amateur drivers from Down Under, including a married couple, taking on the locals in a six-race event.
The Challenge will cover three races on Friday and three on Saturday. Steve and Karen Hollander, Derek Moore and Danny Blakemore make up the New Zealand squad, while eight of our amateurs will compete in these contests.
Steve and Karen Hollander, parents of twin 11-year-old boys Robbie and Jack, live on a 40-acre sheep farm north of Auckland which has it’s own track for training horses. Steve has been driving in the amateur events since they started nine years ago. In addition to racing, his hobbies include rugby, hockey, golf, cricket, tennis, basketball and scrabble.
Karen Hollander has been driving for some seven years. In 2005, she won the New Zealand Amateur Champs and represented her country in the World Cup in Austria. Last year, Karen won the North Island Champs and was named Driver of the Year. She holds a training license and her other interests include golf, fishing, fitness and many outdoor pursuits.
Derek Moore was raised on a farm and rode competitively in horse shows and FEI jumping events for many years. He is now living near Auckland and breeds and races both standardbreds and thoroughbreds, with those performers racing successfully in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, England and the United States. He joined the amateur movement in his country in 2002.
Danny Blakemore has been involved in harness racing since 1984, has been driving since 1998 and has held a trainer’s license for six years. He won the North Island Drivers Championship for the 2010-11 season and is a committee member (director) of the Kumeu Trotting Club. His is involved in the video industry and his hobbies include playing soccer and watching harness races.
FRIENDSHIP CHALLENGE STATISTICS
Rick Bertrand (977-36-82-100)
Danny Blakemore (93-25-14-6)
Susan Boyce (576-47-61-76)
Jeff Cimini (46-5-2-1)
Chris Hernandez (1020-92-109-85)
Karen Hollander (106-15-20-19)
Steve Hollander (135-15-16-20)
Karen Isbell (103-3-7-14)
Bennie Mancino (117-7-6-5)
Derek Moore (63-6-6-6)
David Siegel (1255-160-169-152)
Robert Stepien (209-23-25-31)