Tony Veivers about to create NZ Trotting Derby history

By Duane Ranger (courtesy of Redcliffe Paceway)

Queenslander, Tony Veivers, has already laughed terminal cancer in the face, and now the 60-year-old is about to create Australasian harness racing history with his Group One-winning trotter, Not As Promised.

While all the big pacing guns are flocking to the ‘Sunshine State’ to try and win Interdominion glory starting this Saturday (December 1), Veivers has paid up to $30,000 in international return flights to try and become the first Australian owner to win the coveted $110,000 New Zealand Trotting Derby at Addington Raceway in Christchurch on Sunday week (December 10).

Regardless, no other Australian has ever competed in the coveted 80-year-old Group One event, let alone win it.

And the Olympic gymnastic judges have awarded Tony Veivers a 10 for this landing. The enthusiastic Brisbane-based harness racing owner is about to embark on the Group One journey of a lifetime when Not As Promised competes in the 2023 New Zealand Trotting Derby on Sunday week (December 10).

In fact, Veivers said the gifted 3-year-old will leave for New Zealand tomorrow (Wednesday November 29) and will land in Auckland the same day before catching another flight to Christchurch on Sunday. The son of Betting Line will then have another 55-minute float trip south where he will be housed at Brent and Tim White’s Ashburton Raceway stable.

Not As Promised will line up in in race three, a 2,660m mobile dubbed the ‘King Of The North New Zealand Trotting Derby’. It is worth $110,000, with the winners will pocket $60,500, plus a trophy and dress rug.

The New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club has dubbed the day the ‘2023 Harness Grand Prix meeting, which will comprise eight Group One events, as well as the New Zealand Pacing Derby, the New Zealand Oaks, and the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All.

Past winners of the prestigious New Zealand Trotting Derby have been:

The brilliant Group One winning trotter – Not As Promised and Nathan Dawson – claim the $75,000 Breeders Crown 3yo trotting colts and geldings grand final at Tabcorp Park, Melton. Courtesy of MCCORMICK PHOTS.

Veivers knows about winning a Group One event. On Sunday October 29, Not As Promised, became the first Queensland horse to compete in, and then win the 109-year-old Group One $75,000 Victorian Trotters Derby 3yo Final at Maryborough. He is owned by Veivers Purchasers Ltd and was bred by Jess Tubbs, who had the horse for his first six starts. It was Veivers first group One Victory.

Then last Saturday night (November 25) at Tabcorp Park, Melton, Not As Promised justified his $2 favouritism when winning the $75,000 Breeders Crown 3yo trotting colts and geldings grand final. He has now won nine of his 15 starts and placed in five others for $125,535.

“I had to commit to New Zealand before he won on Saturday, but I honestly think he’s that good he can give the Kiwis a run for their money. His Victorian Trotting Derby win sealed the deal,” Veivers said.

The secret behind the Not As Promised trotting machine – from left Nathan Dawson, Layne Dwyer, and Graham Dwyer.

He then deflected all the praise on to the training and driving trio.

“Layne (Dwyer) has done an absolutely brilliant job looking after the horse down south for us at Dennis reeve’s property in Victoria, and he will again play a big part with his Dad in New Zealand.

“And speaking of Graham – what an amazing trainer he truly is. He’s right up there with the best yet he trains so many people’s broken-down horses and cast-offs, and then gets them up to win. I have 20 horses in Australia, and I only use him or Jack Butler, because I believe they are two of the best trainers in Queensland. Also, Colin Knox, manages my 50-acre farm – 45 minutes from the Brisbane CBD – also trains for me.

“I think Not As promised is the one of a few decent horses Graham’s been given that wasn’t hurt or sore. I can’t speak highly enough of the whole Dwyer family – Martine included.

Harness Racing Headquarters New Zealand – Addington Raceway on Lincoln Road – where the prestigious New Zealand Trotting Derby will be competed for the 81st time.

“I offered $35,000 for Not As Promised when he was originally for sale at $40,000. Greg (Sugars) then came back to me and said no $40,000. I bought him there and then, and I’m so glad I did. He’s the best horse I’ve ever owned, and I have horses in several stables throughout Australia. We all dream of Group One glory and now I have it. It would be the icing on the cake to win across the Tasman,” Veivers said.

“It’s every owners dream to win a Group One at Addington Raceway, simply because it’s rarely achieved, and the owners here have obviously not had the horseflesh or thought it was viable enough to head to New Zealand.

“I’ also bought another nice trotter, from Greg, who is just as good, if not better than Not As Promised. I only paid $35,000 for him. He’s also a 3-year-old and is by Bacardi Lindy. He has had four wins from 14 starts and also placed twice,” Veivers said.

The retired Brisbane fruit and vegetable businessman believed his trotter had a big advantage going into the New Zealand Trotting Derby, simply because he had a genius in the bike.

“Nathan Dawson is the best in Australia and one of the best drivers going around in Australasia currently. He’s driven for me in eight years. His statistics speak for themselves. He is a computer in a seat when he gets out there. He’s a thinking driver. Not a leader and take it from there. I wouldn’t want to have any other driver in the sulky. Nathan gives our horse extra metres.

“I’m so grateful for Nathan getting on the plane soon after his Interdominion heat. I’m still a bit crook but have offered to fly with Nathan on the Saturday before the race. Nathan wants me to go over with him. I’ll see how my health is, but I’m determined to get there,” Veivers said.

No photo description available.
Tony Veivers with his daughter, Sarah and little buddy, Thomas – taken three years ago.

Terminal bowel cancer is deadly serious, but you wouldn’t know Veivers has suffered from it for three years this January.

“The chemotherapy for the structure of my bowel can be pretty severe for the first two days but after that I’m leaping and jumping again. I’ve been told its terminal, but that’s a part of life. I’ve had one mate that was told the same 15 years ago and he’s still with us.

“Even though its terminal, it’s a matter of being strong and positive and not allowing this ugly disease to control my life. Having a horse like Not As Promised lifts my spirits, but life is way too short to get down in the dumps. I want to get to New Zealand and win this race.

“I have good people all around me plus the horse. I am in good hands, and not seeking sympathy, just another Group One. My daughter, Sarah, is a health scientist at Spring Sciences Australia, on the Sunshine Coast looks after my health,” Veivers said.

“I’ve had over 70 goes at chemo at Greenslopes Hospital here in Brisbane where the staff have been fantastic. I’m not alone – over 100 people go there every day for chemotherapy. A couple of days after chemo I’m bouncing and jumping around like in the photo. It’s just the two days enduring the chemo that gets me crook and I don’t like people to see that.”

Veivers said Not As Promised would return home immediately after The New Zealand Trotting Derby and be spelled before taking on the open classers next season.

Not As Promised and Nathan Dawson winning the Group One $75,000 Victorian Trotters Derby 3yo Final at Maryborough on October 29. They became the first Queenslanders to win that coveted 109-year -old race.

“The Square in June or July is a $150,000 race that Graham is targeting. Then I’d like to think he would be good enough to take on Australia and New Zealand’s best open class trotters. He’s such a big fella at 17-plus hands, and still only three so he’s got plenty of time to fill his big frame.

“I rode and pre-trained gallopers for a lot of my early life, but now I’m very proud to say I’m a passionate harness racing owner and breeder,” Veivers said.

My previous story on Not As Promised Victorian Trotting Derby victory:

Photo Finish
The finish of the $75,000 Breeders Crown 3yo trotting colts and geldings grand final at Tabcorp Park, Melton on Saturday night (November 25). Queensland first, daylight second.

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