Southland based driverbecame the first female driver to win the time honoured Dominion Handicap at Addington yesterday (Friday).
The nineteen year old is the youngest driver to the win the race and just the second junior driver to win the Group One feature; the first being Anthony Butt who won it in 1987, driving Simon Katz.
"It was so special and very emotional. As soon as they crossed the line I was pretty much in tears," she said yesterday after Amaretto Sun which is trained by her Grandfather Ken Ford won at odds of 91 to 1.
Things looked promising at the start when she timed her walk up to the tape perfectly and began well to lead early, before The Foot Tapper then Great Things Happen took over leaving Amaretto Sun three back on the running line.
"He just stepped so good. That's probably the best he's ever stepped in his whole career. I couldn't hand up to The Foot Tapper straight away because you have to let my horse run for that first 400 metres because he can buck. You just have to loose rein him for the first bit. I knew when The Foot Tapper got to the front he'd only hand to the best horse in the race. I saw Gavin (Gavin Smith on favourite Great Things Happen)coming and I knew he'd stay there."
That's the way it remained until the field straightened for the run home at the end of the 3200 metre feature.
"I had to tell myself heading up the home straight not to pull out and hope that I'd get a run inside the passing lane. It opened up, he got the run then he showed some high speed. Turning for home Dexter had Bordeaux on the bit with the plug out and he was travelling but he was tapping him up a bit. I thought that's alright. Then I thought Gavin would have put a few lengths on us but he was only half travelling. I thought if I get a run I should go close but I definitely wasn't expecting to win it."
I was in the last 50 metres that the inside run presented itself and the Sundon six year old let down nicely to beat The Foot Tapper by a length and a quarter. The win was celebrated by Tomlinson with a flourish of the whip.
"There were so many things going through my head. I couldn't believe it. He's been so up and down in the last twelve months. He went super in the Ordeal Cup, he then had a couple of issues and we had to get the chiropractor to him."
Although not overly confident about her chances in the Dominion there were signs that the horse was well pre-race.
"I couldn't even walk him around before the race he was that keen and full of himself. He tried to boot me out of the cart five or six times in the warm up. I think it's a habit he's got into. Once he's going and focussed on the job he's a beautiful horse to drive."
The last Southland based driver to win the Dominion waswhen he drove Springbank Richard to win in 2009. Before that you have to go back to Henry Skinner who drove Tobago to win in 1989.
"To us as a family the Dominion is like winning the New Zealand Trotting Cup. Grandad only really trains trotters."
Amaretto Sun has only ever been driven in his thirty six starts be either Sheree or her mother Amanda. Amanda drove him to win at his first start at Banks Peninsula in September 2015. The mother and daughter have each driven the gelding five times to win.
Tomlinson, who works for Invercargill trainer, currently sits second behind Matt Anderson in the Junior Drivers Premiership and has been racking up the travel miles this season, venturing to Canterbury most weekends.
"Murray has been very good to me. I come up most weeks to Addington to drive on Friday night. If it wasn't for my Mum and Dad and Nana and Grandad helping me I wouldn't be able to do it. I really do appreciate it."
Tomlinson says the Green Mile at Methven on December 3rd is the horse's next target before he heads to Auckland with the main target The Rowe Cup.
"I'm heading over for the Australiasian Drivers Championship in December and I think one of his races is when I'm over in Aussie. I'll have to sweet talk Grandad and miss that one. Mum may have to put on the colours and drive him."
Sheree Tomlinson has driven forty six winners in the three seasons she's been driving. Her first winner was Little Mo at Oamaru in January 2016.
Southland Harness Racing