Angus Garrard is the greatest young talent to take the reins on a Queensland harness racing track in the 21st century, and unlike some of his predecessors, he’s as clean as a whistle too.
The kid is only sixteen, and still at school for another year and a half, and for ill-stated reasons the racing authorities – QRIC – won’t grant him a license to drive at the main meetings on Saturday nights, yet the double he drove last night at Redcliffe made him the number 1 junior driver in Queensland ahead of much older young reinspeople who have been driving for years.
The double put at number seven on the all-comers ladder for the season too, ahead of a host of top-class drivers who have been steering winners around paceways for years.
This kid is a phenom, and I reckon that pound for pound Angus Garrard is the greatest sportsperson under the age of 18 in the whole of Queensland, and that he would give the number 1 spot across the nation a fair nudge too.
His spot at number 7 in the State clearly shows that young Garrard is up there with the best, and can hold his own against anybody, and do better than most of them too.
His night last night in the 3rd race at Redcliffe behind Billboard Bonnie (at top) proves it beyond any doubt.
You could go to harness racing racing meetings anywhere in the world for twenty years, and you might be lucky enough to see a drive as good as this one, but you will never see one better, and that’s coming from someone who has being going to the trots and following the sport assiduously for half a century.
So why can’t the wonder kid get a metropolitan drivers license?
The QRIC Licensing and Registration Manager Nicole Elliott – who started out her racing integrity career just 4 years ago as the microchip and ear brand checker at the dogs on a Thursday night – didn’t say when why when she knocked backed Angus Garrard’s application for a metro drivers license, and her colleague Kane Ashby, the horse jockey turned desk jockey who is the QRIC Internal Reviewer, didn’t say either.
I was talking the other day about the Angus issue to a mate of mine who has been one of Australia’s best drivers for about four decades, and he reckoned that a driver had to hold a B-Class license – that’s the license the kid holds; it allows you to drive at any meeting other than a metropolitan fixture – for at least 12 months before they could be promoted to the A-Grade, pretty much the equivalent of going off your P’s onto an open car driver’s license.
He was wrong though.
There is no such rule, either in the licensing provisions of the Australian Harness Racing Rules, or in the local rules. There is no policy about how long a driver must hold a B-Grade license before they can be upgraded to an A-category one either.
All that the rules say is that a person can’t hold an A-Grade license until they are least sixteen, which Angus Garrard is.
Here’s the question.
If this kid who has driven 75 winners eight months into the extended season, and barring mishaps is a certainty to top the ton, can’t hold an A-Grade license, then how can anyone who is below him on the State Premiership ladder hold one either?
It doesn’t make any sense.
Then again, not much that the QRIC does in Queensland does.
Imagine if Athletics Australia had told Cathy Freeman that she couldn’t compete in the top grade at the 1990 Commonwealth Games at age 16, or Swimming Australia had put the kibosh on Tracey Wickham going up and down in the 400 and 800 freestyle in Canada in 1978.
We’d be short a whole lot of “Gold, Gold, Gold for Australia!” medals wouldn’t we?
So why the hell are a bunch of people who wouldn’t know a champion reinsman if he drove right over them holding Angus Garrard back from his destiny to become one of the all-time greats of the game?
I guess we’ll find out at QCAT, won’t we.
What a crying shame it is that the poor kid has to resort to that, just to get a fair go.
Oh well, such is life.
Angus Garrard will be here long after those who knocked back his license are gone and forgotten.
Don’t you worry about that.
Update – Angus Garrard has finally been granted a license to drive at metropolitan meetings, and will begin his city career in early June,
According to the records we have been able to access, at sixteen years and nine months of age he will be the youngest reinsman since 1968 to drive at Albion Park on a Saturday night.
We predict with confidence that he will win next year’s open driver’s title.