THE massive rise of female drivers in harness racing has been underlined with a record five females among those invited to next month‘s Australian Drivers' Championship series in Adelaide.
Dual Victorian metropolitan premiership winner Kate Gath will be joined by champion SA driver Dani Hill, WA young gun Emily Suvaljko, NSW’s leading female driver Grace Panella and the decorated Queenslander Narissa McMullen in the eight-race series at Globe Derby on September 17.
It is the first time the much sought-after series has been held since 2019 because of the pandemic.
Each state chose two representatives to make the 12 drivers competing.
The male drivers are: James Herbertson (Vic), Cam Hart (NSW), Gary Hall Jr (WA), Pete McMullen (Qld), Wayne Hill (SA) and Tasmanian pair Connor Crook and Rohan Hillier.
Notably, the series was held in Adelaide in 2018 and won by Todd McCarthy, who is now an international sensation and won the world’ most famous harness race, the Hambletonian, in the US at the weekend.
Gary Hall Jr is the defending champion having won it in 2019, while Wayne Hill (2016) and Pete McMullen (2014) are also past winners.
The five females in this year’s line-up will be trying to create history as the first female winner of the series.
There is some family pride on the line as well with two sets of siblings: Dani and Wayne Hill, along with Pete and Narissa McMullen.
The winner of the series will significantly boost their chances of representing Australia at the next World Drivers’ Championship in Italy next year.
“We’re thrilled to bring this fantastic series back to life and have it here in Adelaide,” Harness Racing SA CEO Dean Elliott said. “And we couldn’t be more excited about the line-up of drivers nominated by their states.
“What a tremendous advertisement for harness racing to see such a diverse cross section of representatives.
“This will be a night to remember at Globe Derby and a real highlight for not just our passionate harness racing industry here, but the broader sporting community. It will also put Globe Derby in the national spotlight for the night.”
* Adam Hamilton is a paid contributor writing on harness racing for News Corp.