Southern harness racing identity Bill Keeler was awarded his first official training win when Touche Express won at today's (Tuesday) Invercargill harness racing Club's meeting held at Ascot Park.
Many who know Bill, or of him, realise the official tag is the only first involved in this situation, because genuinely speaking Bill knows how to train a racehorse, and has had the odd success or two, in an unofficial capacity. The Makerewa resident splits his time between working horses from the property of good friend and fellow trainer Murray Brown, with stud duties (not himself of course), but as Studmaster for Kaylea Stud overseeing the breeding operation with a number of stallions he's been involved with over the years.
"We've still got Knight Rainbow here, he's getting on a bit but is still serving mares, and one of my best horse's is by him," said Keeler. The Southland horseman is referring to Mister Dale, the winner of eight races before being exported to the States where he took a mark of 1.53.1. Keeler bred Mister Dale from themare Cath Hanover, who also produced smart pacer Cordon Hops (Devil's Adversary), the winner of 15 races.
Touche Express is a gelded son of Matt Scooter stallion, a sire Keeler has also enjoyed previous success with. "I bred and raced Loch Nagar who won six races, he was a pretty good horse really. This one's not as good and I had a good couple of dollars on him last start, but not so much this time," says Keeler. A once bitten twice shy scenario that many of us have found ourselves in previously. Touche Express was given a gorgeous trip in the trail by Brent Shirley, and turning for home it was just a matter of by how much.
At the line it was an easy two lengths and a thanks for coming salute by Shirley to his old mate Bill, congratulating him on his win. It was the six year old's third win from 25 starts. Bill Keeler took out a licence back in 1987 for a couple of years before being re-licenced this season, with today being only his sixth official start in a training capacity.
Top Sire:2 wins.
Top Junior Driver: Craig Ferguson 1 win.
Top Driver: Nathan Williamson 2 wins.
Top Trainer: Bruce Negus 2 wins.
Results from the Invercargill Harness Racing Club's meeting held at Ascot Park today (Tuesday) were:
Race 1: The Brendan McLellan trained CANT MISS ME () Craig Ferguson.
Race 2: The Bruce Negus trained PATIENCEOFASAINT () Johnny Cox.
Race 3: The Bill Keeler trained TOUCHE EXPRESS () Brent Shirley.
Race 4: The Geoff and Judith Knight trained LIVITUP JACK () Nathan Williamson.
Race 5: The Ron and Julie McEwan trained CICERO () Kirk Larsen.
Race 6: The Allan Beck trained and driven THEIR EXCUSE ().
Race 7: The Bruce Negus trained LITTLE JOE () Allan Beck .
Race 8: The Bill Heads trained WISHING DEL () Nathan Williamson.