French cavalry on order for Bathurst

Frenchman Pierre Vercryusse. Photo: HARNESS RACING AUSTRALIAPACING

HE may joke that he is a lazy trainer, but when Frenchman Pierre Vercryusse arrives at the Bathurst Paceway tomorrow night, it will be as the current title holder of the World Driving Championship.

Vercryusse is one of 10 highly credentialed reinsmen who will be at the Bathurst Harness Racing Club’s meeting as part of the 2015 World Driving Championship, a bi-annual series which pits the best in the sport against each other through a series of races.

This year the championship consists of 20 heats and the Bathurst club has been given the honour of hosting four of those at their new facility, the track having seen quick times and earned plenty of praise since opening in October.

While Australia’s representative in the series, Chris Alford, has made in impressive start to the competition as he was five points clear of his nearest rival after the first two days of racing, Vercryusse has not done it as easy.

He was sitting in last position on 17 points, well behind Alford’s 52, after five heats.

Still, the man who won his first race at Graignes race track back in 1978 certainly has the skill and time to make up that deficit before Sunday’s final heat at Menangle Park.

As of December 31 last year, he had driven 17,999 winners.

“I am happy to be here, I am going to try my best to keep my title,” he told TrotsTV.

Vercryusse won the World Driving Championship on his home soil two years ago in commanding fashion, while his venture to Australia marks the third time he has represented France in the competition.

“I had a chance to race in Canada [as well] and it was a New Zealand driver who won it that year. It was a tough competition, but it was very good because we were fighting in the race, but it was a very good feeling,” he said.

Though he has also raced in countries such as Italy, Norway, Sweden and Finland, Vercryusse does a bulk of his driving in France. He also has a small, but select team of 12 horses he trains.

“[In France] You can drive every day of the week, afternoon time, night time – it depends on if it’s winter time, spring time,” he said.

“Most of the time I drive 900-1,000 times a year.

“I have a really small stable, I train 12 horses … since I spend a lot of time on the road, it is better not to have too many.

“I am a lazy kind of guy, so I have three people working for me.

“I just keep 12 because I only keep the best of the best for myself.”

Tomorrow night in Bathurst Vercryusse had no say over which horses he was allocated for the four heats which will be staged.

Two of them are horses trained locally – Nathan Hurst’s We Own The Night and Chris Frisby’s Uncle John.

Both are last start winners, but We Own The Night looks the better prospect given his barrier one draw in heat 13, which will be contested over 1,730 metres.

Uncle John, who is having his first start since saluting at Bathurst on November 19, has draw gate 12 in heat 14.

The big race meeting is set to get underway at 6.15pm tomorrow night, with the first of Bathurst’s four World Driving Championship heats set for 7.13pm.

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