Harness racing in the blood for inaugural Primary ITO Cadet of the Year winner


By Anna on September 10, 2014.


For Dylan Stratford, the winner of the inaugural Primary ITO Harness Racing Cadet of the Year competition, harness racing is in his blood.


“I’m the third generation to get involved with the harness racing industry,” Dylan explains. “It’s in the family.”


As for taking out the very first Primary ITO Harness Racing Cadet of the Year title, Dylan says “it was a surprise, but I was absolutely stoked.”


Based on a similar concept to the popular Young Farmer of the Year contest, the brand new competition saw New Zealand’s current Level 4 Cadets go head-to-head with their classmates in regional finals, and then at a national final at Addington Raceway.The competition is designed to test the Level 4 Cadets on a wide variety of skills and knowledge learnt over the course of their qualification.


Each phase of the competition was evaluated and marked, with the Cadet earning points for each task based on performance. Four finalists were selected and Dylan was crowned the overall winner at the Annual Harness Racing Awards Function held in August. Jack McKinnon from Northland was named as runner-up.


“The challenges we had to do on the competition day were fun. The strangest one was baking cupcakes. I’d never made cupcakes before so that was quite a challenge for me! We also played two holes of golf, as well as horse-related challenges like a veterinary task and a horse driving challenge. It was all in good fun and I enjoyed getting to know the other three finalists,” Dylan says.


Having the Cadet of the Year title to his name is “a great way to get his name out there in the industry,” he says.


Dylan believes that the training he has undertaken through Primary ITO has been incredibly useful to his career.


“The Primary ITO National Certificate in Equine (Level 4) Harness Racing driver qualification covered so many bases. You learn everything from specialised equine theory to home loans and accounting.”


Topics covered in the qualification include identifying health, ill health, common ailments and lameness in horses. Trainees also learn how to prepare for travel, and care for horses in short-term accommodation as well as learning about the cleaning and maintenance of saddlery.


As for young people wanting to get into harness racing Dylan believes being passionate is the most important thing. “You must love horses because you will have to work some long hours and it can be tough, especially in the winter when it’s snowing! But if you’re passionate you can go far. Just get out there and get involved!”


Dylan is also a big believer in the value of training get ahead.


“It’s having a qualification on your CV and that recognition of your skills and knowledge” he says.


As for the future, after being based in Christchurch for the past few years Dylan is currently spending some time in Nelson with his family before he jets off overseas at the end of October. “The plan is to head to France, and then to New Jersey. I know a lot of people in Canterbury who have connections over in Europe and Amercia so they have linked me up with some trainers over there.”


To find out more information about Primary ITO’s harness racing training and qualifications please go here or call 0800 20 80 20 to speak to an expert adviser.


Courtesy: Primary ITO


Stratford and Veint qualify for Cadet of the Year Final


26 June 2014

By Matt Markham - Courtsey HRNZ


Not even the thought of having to drive back to Nelson from Christchurch last night could wipe the smile off the face of Dylan Stratford after he was crowned the regional winner of the Primary ITO Cadet of the Year competition yesterday.


The 23-year-old horseman fended off the challenge of 12 of his peers from the Canterbury area to claim the first ever regional title in the inaugural running of the competition and will now head to the national final at Addington Raceway next month to contest for the supreme title of national champion.


Stratford, who is now based in Nelson and working in a labouring job, drove South on Tuesday night to compete and then jumped back in his car almost instantly to face the drive back home.


“It’s going to be a little bit easier than if I hadn’t won that’s for sure,’’ he said.


In a three-part competition which pitted the Level 4 cadets against each other in a myriad of challenges which included a driving challenge and being able to correctly name 20 different types of horse feed - Stratford shone.


He claimed the outright top score in three of the six different stages of the competition and finished in a tie for first in another – underlining his all-round knowledge.


“I really enjoyed the competition, it’s been a really enjoyable day and the team in charge of it need to be applauded for coming up with something like this.


“The Cadet scheme has really come along in the last couple of years, what is being offered up to us has been of huge value and a series like this only compliments it I think.’’


Stratford will head to the national final knowing that it will be more than likely be his last chance to win it as he intends on heading overseas later this year.


“If I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.


“So I’m working up in Nelson and trying to save up a bit of money and I plan to head to America later in the year.’’


Stratford will be joined in the final by fellow Cantab, Alex Veint.


Due to the large number of Level 4 Cadets, two competitors from the Canterbury region will compete in the national final alongside the regional winners from both the Southern and Northern regions.


Veint scored the highest mark in the driving challenge with a score of 51 out of a possible 60 in what proved to the most popular discipline of the day.


Without a stopwatch the cadets were asked to work a horse over a 2400 metre distance with specific time guidelines set for each of the three 800 metre stages of the workout.


1 point was deducted for each second the driver was out from the set times – but all managed to produce impressive scores considering they weren’t allowed the use of a watch and that a number had never driven around Addington before.


Veint claimed top prize in the challenge, while Denis Van Werhooven finished second with 50 points and Todd Quate was third with 49 points.


The regional finals now move to Invercargill and the Southern Region on Wednesday, July 2 and then the Northern Region final at the Franklin Trotting Club on Monday, July 7.