Day At The Track

"Smiley" has a love for the game

10:00 AM 26 Jun 2020 NZST
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All smiles – Katrina with Dream Over
All smiles – Katrina with Dream Over

One of Dr Albert Schweitzer's most notable quotes was: "If you love what you are doing, you will be successful".

And the German-born philosopher, if he was still alive, would certainly have a compelling example in passionate Ballarat region harness racing trainer Katrina Fitzpatrick.

Perhaps Katrina's nickname in the industry, "Smiley", is also a bit of a giveaway!

"I just love the horses. I could honestly spend all day mucking around with them," the livewire Ross Creek horsewoman said.

"I've been in the sport for a long time. There's always been at least one horse around probably every day of my life," she laughed.

Katrina's patience with four-year-old Dream Over paid dividends on Wednesday afternoon when he scored a well-deserved win in the Hillcroft Stables Trotters Handicap at Stawell.

To watch the video replay click here.

Driven perfectly in front by leading Ararat freelance reinsman Michael Bellman, Dream Over (Andover Hall-My Dreamweaver (Lindy Lane) won well from Show Me The Moola and Allawart Bob.

"He had been placed in seven of his past nine runs and I'm pretty certain his previous win was at Stawell, so it's becoming a favorite track of mine!" Katrina said.

"There's some big improvement in him yet because he's still learning. What we love about him is the way he knuckles down when the others come at him," she said.

Katrina and Darren Fitzpatrick with reinsman Michael Bellman after Dream Over’s win at Stawell

Katrina most definitely has a soft spot for the square gaiters, and obtained Dream Over through helping out Pat Driscoll, of Yabby Dam Farms.

"When we got him, Pat did tell us that he was very immature and would take a while. In the early days, he was naughty as well, but we've really looked after him," she said.

"Time is so important and sometimes you just have to be so patient with them. Pat actually gave us the horse because I'd been looking after some that needed care like changing bandages and that sort of thing."

Katrina said she was happy with training only a small team of two these days, which is a far cry from the dozen she would prepare years ago, along with jogging up horses for trainers including the late Graeme Lang.

"When we started a family, I think that was the right time to cut back. We have two lovely children in Jason and Kylie, and my husband Darren, is really supportive," she said.

"We've just finished building a brand-new walk-in, walk-out shed for the horses!"

Katrina admits she has had her share of luck with trotters over the years, having been involved with such smart performers as Irish Rhapsody, Hurricane Truscott, Reasons To Rule and Beau Bradie, But she's also enjoyed being associated with some handy pacers in Reasons, Chasing Chelsea and Docile Joe.

And while she known mostly as a trainer, Katrina's driving career had some highlights as well, including getting off "to a flyer" when she tasted success at her very first drive.

"It was at Kilmore on August 13, 1979, on a pacer named Michaels Joy trained by my late brother-that was such a special win and now means just so much," she said.

Katrina went on to drive another five winners, but still rates a fifth placing at a night meeting at Moonee Valley as a big highlight.

"I represented Victoria in the first-ever male and female invitational challenge. This included Deb Quinlan and Roma Pocock. That was a big privilege," she said.

A race fall at Ballarat, which hospitalized her for a fortnight with a broken pelvis and other injuries, put a halt to her driving career.

"I also got both my hands smashed up badly six years ago when a horse suddenly pulled back out of the float. That meant having plates and a lot of therapy. I'm now just sticking to the training part which I really love," she said.

"Apart from Dream Over, who is our little champ at the moment, we have a well-bred yearling trotter that we're very happy with.

"My love is for the trotter-but I do have hopples hanging up in the gear shed!"

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura


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