Last Friday, the 8th September, was a memorable occasion at Addington Raceway in Christchurch, for top reinsman Colin DeFilippi.
He reached the milestone of driving 2,000 winners in New Zealand.
This was in his first drive on the programme and very fittingly achieved on a trotter called Izmok, who Colin shares in the ownership of and who he co-trains with his wife Julie.
In a usual patient and masterful drive, getting out nicely from 3-back on the markers as they rounded the home turn, he powered home down the outer in the home straight for an impressive win.
In typical fashion Colin gave an understated salute as he crossed the finishing line, to mark the momentous achievement and soon after passing the Winning Post was given the first of many congratulatory handshakes by former employee Samantha Ottley, who drove the runner-up Michelle.
The magical win had been a while coming with a long time between drinks over recent months, but Izmok gave the final push over the line, after also providing Colin with his 1,999th win on the same course, back on the 18th August.
Izmok is a 4-year-old gelding by Muscles Yankee out of Belle Galleon and so is a half-brother to the outstanding trotter Stent, who has won 30 races and $1,156,000 to date for Colin as co-trainer with Julie and for his owner Trevor Casey.
There are only five other members of the exclusive 2,000-win Club in New Zealand, with Colin now being the sixth to join Tony Herlihy (3,426 wins), Maurice McKendry (3,196), Ricky May (2,784), David Butcher (2,247) and Dexter Dunn (2,010 – becoming the youngest to join the Club with his win on Mistahmistah at Addington on the 7th July 2017).
Colin began his driving career in 1974, achieving 11 wins in his first season of driving and obtaining his first win behind Brother Eden at Greymouth on the 23rd October 1974, who was aptly trained by his father Rod DeFilippi. Colin had his best season to date in 2005/6 with 121 wins and $1,022,285 in stakes and also took out the New Zealand Drivers Championship that year.
Colin has won most of the feature races in New Zealand during his driving career, with some of the notable wins being a New Zealand Cup with Kyms Girl (also co-trained with wife Julie), an Auckland Cup with Burlington Burtie and two Rowe Cups with So Long Eden and Stent (also co-trained with wife Julie).
He was also the driver of former champion 2 & 3-year-old Courage Under Fire who he piloted to be unbeaten in his first 24 starts and in the process winning a record six Derbies.
Colin has driven five winners on a single race programme on three occasions, at Oamaru on the 12th May 1979, at Westport on the 28th December 1983 and at Banks Peninsula on the 2nd October 2005. He also finished second in the 2007 World Drivers Championship, which was held in New Zealand and Australia, having 3 winning drives in New Zealand and finishing only three points adrift of the winner Belgian Christophe Martens.
Colin also took out his Trainers Licence at a young age, while still a probationary driver, in 1975. He trained initially on his own until the 1997/8 season and during this time he had 277 winners for stakes of $1,587,109. In the 1998/9 season he was joined in partnership by his wife Julie and they have had 258 winners for stakes of $3,230,133 since this time.
Colin is an inductee of both the New Zealand Trotting Hall of Fame and the Addington Harness Hall of Fame.
And now another milestone has been reached, achieving 2,000 winning drives in New Zealand and joining a very elite group.
Congratulations Colin on your amazing achievement !!!