Five Juniors Harnessing Racing WA's New Driver Program

24 May 2024 | Ashleigh Paikos

Racing WA’s new Junior Driver Trainee Program is off and racing, with five young hopefuls currently completing the program under the care of the Racing WA’s Trainer and Assessor Jordan Sprlyan.

“The junior driver training program is a part of a wider industry development plan that aims to support drivers as they start their journey into the industry,

“The program is designed as a way to formally recognise existing skills and knowledge that participants bring with them from previous experience in the industry, whilst enhancing those skills and knowledge in their pursuit of becoming high quality harness drivers.” Jordan Sprlyan said.

In conjunction with the program, Jordan Sprlyan assesses and mentors each of the young participants throughout their Certificate II in Racing, which is the formal component of Racing WA’s Junior Driver Training Program.

Currently, the program has five harness participants: Lachlan Kennelly, Kylah Madden, Abbey Vidovich, Darcy Kulczar and Ajay Markham.

Lachlan Kennelly, who’s journey into the equestrian industry saw him a first-generation horse person. Initially working for Bayley Thomas with her rehoming program, Kennelly got his foot in the door and eventually made his way down to the stables of Jemma Hayman and Ross Olivieri, a career decision he couldn’t be happier with.

“It’s not really work, it’s more fun than work, it’s a great experience,

“Really enjoying it (trial experience), it’s been good, I was definitely nervous at the start but the more I’ve done it the more I’ve calmed into it,

“It’s been really good, and I’ve learnt a heap so far, so looking forward to the rest of it.” Kennelly said

Both Lachlan Kennelly and Kylah Madden had a similar introduction to standardbreds after both working for Bayley Thomas with her retraining business, and although have gone to different stables, have both gone down a similar path and both should have their driver’s licence by the end of the year.

Madden, who currently works for Colin Brown has learnt plenty from the champion reinsman, with her experiences over the past several months booting her confidence.

“It was pretty terrifying the first couple of times, but I’ve got used to it and I’m a bit more confident within myself now.

Darcy Kulczar, who recently made his racing debut comes from a racing background with his mum, Mary Kulczar a trainer, and now works for Kat Warwick (and Trevor Warwick), as well as coming from a pony trots background.

“I’ve learnt a lot from him (Trevor), he’s refining me to be a better driver and learning how to get all the gaps and short cuts in races.” Darcy Kulczar.

Abbey Vidovich comes into harness racing fresh faced with no family involvement whatsoever, but with a longstanding friendship with Dean Miller, she started to learn the ropes in his stable before heading to Kim Prentice who gave her the opportunity of her first track work experience.

“My first trial was a stand, which I had no idea what to do but everyone helps out a lot.”

Ajay Markham has plenty of family involvement in the sport, with his dad Ash Markham a trainer/driver, his mum Tamara a clerk, his grandfather Peter Bell previously a trainer/driver and his uncle Ryan Bell a trainer/driver as well.

Markham currently works for the stables of Four Diamonds Pacing (Aiden De Campo) who he is learning plenty from. Ajay is currently completing his trials and taking as many opportunities as he can.

“We hope the program offers support to these young drivers, setting a solid foundation from which they can grow and establish themselves a long career in harness racing.” Sprlyan said.

Ashleigh Paikos


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