Day At The Track

Backpacker chasing Pacing Cups trail

12:00 PM 02 Apr 2019 NZDT
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Kima Frenning, harness racing Kima Frenning and David Aiken Kima Frenning, harness racing
Kima Frenning
Cobram Harness Racing Club Photo
Kima Frenning and David Aiken at the Perth Interdominions
The West Photo
Kima Frenning
Kilmore Harness Racing Club Photo

Not a day goes by when rising harness racing star Kima Frenning doesn’t stop and reflect on the fortunes life has dealt her over the past four years.

The 27-year-old Swedish Monte rider, of Middle Eastern heritage, had planned on a three-month backpacking holiday in Australia to avoid winter at home. But she landed a job in a top stable and is carving out a successful career as a driver and now trainer.

“I have been so lucky – but it’s all thanks to a big circle of supporters who have put their faith in me. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” Frenning said.

“Early in my career I copped a three-week suspension for a really bad drive and I retired there and then. Fortunately, some friends changed my mind for me and I came out of retirement again!

“The Aiken team, Clayton Tonkin and Emma Stewart, Lance Justice, and owners Luke Stokie, Domenic Martello and others have been a massive support.

“I’m still learning, but the best thing for me is I’m driving good horses and if I stuff up, often they can still get the job done.”

Frenning is perhaps being a bit tough on herself, as a check on the 2018-19 season premiership tables will show.  She is currently fifth on the State Driver’s Premiership, behind the likes of Chris Alford, Greg Sugars, Kate Gath and Gavin Lang.  She is second on the Metropolitan Driver’s Premiership, only seven wins behind Alford.  And needless to say, she holds a handy lead in the State Concession Driver’s Premiership.

David Aiken and Kima Frenning

Frenning, who is based at David Aiken’s Avenel stable, claimed the 2019 $60,000 Horsham Pacing Cup (Group Two) on Sunday with Buster Brady (Real Desire USA - Kacie Marie NZ (Clever Innocence USA).

And next week she will be in Mildura for the rich three-night carnival, chasing the prestigious Pacing Cup with Wrappers Delight (Bettors Delight USA - Charlotte Church NZ (Christian Cullen NZ).

“I won the Mildura Cup last year with Im The Boss for the Stokie Racing Group, which is trained by David (Aiken), so it would be awesome to think I could make it back-to-back victories,” Frenning said.

“I absolutely love driving on the (805-metre) Mildura track.  It is one of my favorites, along with Gloucester Park in Perth. The fans are up close on the fence, there’s competitive racing and the atmosphere is unreal.”

Im The Boss won’t be making the trip to Sunraysia for the Pacing Cup, as he is little behind in his preparation after a strenuous Interdominion series.

Frenning said she had also considered at one stage to take Buster Brady, the only horse she has of her own, to Mildura, but was worried about getting around the bends.

“He wobbles a bit at times, but as soon as he’s balanced, he’s up and going,” she said.

“I had to check him twice at Horsham and I really thought I’d blown my chance. But he has a strong will to win and he took off after I balanced him.”

Buster Brady has been a revelation, being bought from New Zealand winless in his past 17 starts, and now having the title of country cups king of Victoria. He has won the Shepparton, Geelong, Cobram, Echuca and Horsham cups in the past four months.

Frenning said it was an “unreal feeling” when Buster Brady won at Cranbourne last November to be her first winner as a trainer.

“I’ve always had a passion to be a trainer. It actually interested me more than the driving. And I’m in the right place to learn because David is an amazing mentor,” she said.

“When I was growing up I just loved horses. I did the pony trots with my sister Sara and that was quite exciting.

“At school I studied law and economics. I also worked part-time in sales but didn’t like it much.”

Frenning later took to Monte riding, where trotting harness horses compete under saddle, with riders like jockeys. It is particularly popular in France and Scandinavia.

Kima Frenning riding in a Monte race at Kilmore

She was based in southern Sweden at Jagersro, an A class track in Malmo and recorded two wins from about a dozen rides.

Soon after joining Team Aiken, with the aim of furthering her experience with horses, fortuitously, monte racing was gaining momentum in Victoria.

“I was lucky to win a few premierships. I was helped by a few trainers like the Aikens, Chris and Alison Alford, and others, who put me on their good horses,” Frenning said.

But despite this success, the Swede wanted to drive and not just ride the standardbreds.

And on her own admissions, she improved out of sight after a very slow start.

“I’ll admit that sometimes I haven’t given Buster Brady the best drive, but we are learning. David helps me understand what I have to do,” she said.

Frenning said she goes back to Sweden once a year to see family and friends.

“But Australia is home at the moment. I’m loving what I’m doing now and don’t want to leave.”

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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