Cain willing and able to take on best of Australasia

Leonard Cain faces off against some of Queensland’s best drivers on an almost-daily basis but will face a new challenge in next week’s 1EQUINE 2023 Australasian Young Drivers Championships.

The 24-year-old will line up alongside fellow young gun Angus Garrard as Queensland’s representatives in the series, which brings together the best under 25-year-old drivers from across Australia and New Zealand.

Cain said it was an honour to don the maroon and yellow colours of the Sunshine State in the series.

“It’s a great privilege – obviously every young driver aspires to be part of something like this and to represent the state and in our home state it’s a great privilege, it’s very exciting,” Cain said.

“It’s a great bunch of drivers to be honest and it’s a very strong bunch of drivers – it’s going to be neck and neck between everybody.

“Obviously James Herbertson (Victoria) is having a great season, Angus is having a great season.

“The Kiwi drivers too – I watch a lot of racing over there, they’re great drivers so it’s going to be an awesome series and not going to be easy that’s for sure.”

10 races will be held at both The Creek and The Triangle, starting on Tuesday, December 12 before the final heats on Saturday, December 16, coinciding with the 2023 Ladbrokes Inter Dominion Pacing and Trotting Championships.

Cain is recovering after being dislodged from Highly Respected at Redcliffe on Wednesday last week but will be fit and firing for the AYDC.

Leonard Cain and Angus Garrard are representing QLD in the AYDC.

His toughest competition is sure to come from Garrard, who is fresh off claiming the Queensland Young Drivers Championship.

“Angus has been one of our shining lights from a young participant point of view for the last three years,” Racing Queensland Senior Harness Racing Manager David Brick said.

“The fact that he’s third on our Drivers Premiership at this stage at only a young age indicates what skill and dedication he has.

“I think he’s really looking forward to the opportunity to do that and I think for him and Leonard to be able to compete on Inter Dominion night in front of their own home crowd is something they’re really looking forward to and it’s well deserved for both of them.”

Brick added that the AYDC would add a new element of competition to ID23, and also provide plenty of opportunities for the drivers off the track.

“It’s a really good series, hotly contested and from our point of view also it’s really good to provide some development opportunities for these kids,” Brick said.

“Theres’s opportunities for them to develop those networks and potentially go and meet new trainers they can get drives for in the future or potentially work with in the future as well.

“I know a lot of the past Queensland representatives speak of the representation and working with and competing against competitors from across other states and New Zealand and how those friendships have blossomed over time, so I think from that point of view it’s as just as much a learning experience off the track as it is on.”

Leonard Cain during a win at Redcliffe.

Cain said he’d be jumping at the chance to develop new contacts within the industry as he looks to expand his career prospects.

“You drive for different trainers that you might not have driven with before, so it definitely opens it up in that way…you never know what it could bring in the future,” he said.

“A major opening series like these, it sort of almost forces you to drive for new people and meet new people and even from a driver’s point of view meet different drivers from around Australasia.

“That’s a great thing to do too because you make contacts for life and friends for life as well so has got a lot of great avenues to it for sure.”

The Kiwis will have three drivers in the series, while New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia will all have a single representative each.

The excitement for the ID23 as a whole was widespread throughout the Queensland harness racing community, with the series in the Sunshine State for the first time since 2009.

“Everyone’s pumped for sure…to have it in our home state, it means a lot to a lot of people and gives us a good chance at it,” Cain said.

“It’ll be a great series – there’s a lot of good horses coming and trainers and drivers, and it’ll be an awesome series.”

Click here for more information on the 2023 Australasian Young Drivers Championships.

Angus Garrard after winning the Queensland Young Drivers Championship.

By Andrew Smith