Matthew Williamson will be hoping against a photo finish when he competes in the World Driving Championships in Sweden in May.
Williamson (28) was selected to represent New Zealand after premiership leader Blair Orange pulled out.
The decision to attend was not an easy one, as he and partner Charlotte Purvis are expecting their first child just 10 days after the conclusion of the series.
“In the end we decided it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I might not get the chance to go again,” he said.
“Having said that, I am a lot more excited about the baby arriving than the racing.”
He will compete in 24 races over five meetings.
All World Driving Championships horses this time are trotters, as opposed to pacers, which Williamson saw as an advantage, being from one of New Zealand’s premier trotting families.
“That will help me, but I think it will come down to who gets the best draws of horses,” he said.
“You are only as fast as the horse that is carrying you.”
The trip would also give him a chance to have a look around some stables, and see how training methods differed in the northern hemisphere.
Sweden is regarded as producing the world’s best trotters and the prestigious Elitloppet race at Solvalla was something Williamson was looking forward to.
“It’s a bit of a Mecca for trotting fans all over the world.”
Williamson said he was running every morning, but was unsure wether this would have any bearing on his results in Sweden.
Asking fellow driver Anthony Butt about what to expect, Williamson said he was told to just stay true to his existing style.
“It’s an honour to represent New Zealand. I’m just hoping to lob a couple of good horses in the draw and give it a good crack.”