Day At The Track

It was a Redwood day to remember for Norm

03:40 PM 06 Aug 2019 NZST
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Magic Owens,Harness racing
Redwood Day winner Magic Owens is only the second trotter trained by Norm McVitty
Bianca Brehaut photo

Ballarat based harness racing trainer Norm McVitty has enjoyed being a spectator at Maryborough's big Redwood day for a long time - but last weekend's fixture just "took the cake".

"I just love the square gaiters and I guess I've been going to the Redwood for about the past 20 years," McVitty said.

"I'm still in shock to be honest. About a week before I was going to again be attending as usual as an onlooker. I then I found myself going as a trainer with a horse competing for the first-time ever!"

And thanks to a brilliant drive by ace reinswoman Kate Gath, the fairytale had the perfect ending.

After getting Magic Owens (Great Success-African Magic (Kadabra) away quickly from the 10 metre tapes in the $9000 Carisbrook Reserve Trustees Handicap Final, Gath weaved in to settle on the back of the leader.

The pair saluted at bolter odds of $44.80, courtesy of using the sprint lane and dashing to the line.

McVitty, a butcher by trade, only ever trains a few at a time, but is highly regarded as an astute conditioner.

"Probably a young friend Connor Clarke deserves much of the credit. He grew up around the sport and he's so keen and enthusiastic," McVitty said.

"I told him to find one, something to take to the races so that he could learn on it because he's going for his driver's licence," he said.

"He jumped on the phone and rang around looking for a horse to buy and fortunately come up with Magic Owens."

The five-year-old trotter was previously trained by Bendigo trainer Alex Ashwood, for a Tasmanian owner.

"Magic Owens ran fourth in a heat of this race late last month and qualified for the final so that was pretty exciting," McVitty said.

"My family now race the horse in partnership with Connor, so it was a big thrill for all of us to be at the Redwood meeting with a horse and an even bigger one to win a race that's for sure."

Norm McVitty at home with Magic Owens

McVitty said he fast-worked Magic Owens with his nine-win pacer Our Sir Oliver on the Tuesday and Thursday prior to Sunday afternoon's meeting at Maryborough.

"He went super. Of course, we are all kicking ourselves now that we didn't put a lot of money on him," he laughed.

"Connor asked me if he could offer the drive to Kate as he's down there helping Kate and Andy any spare moment he gets. Needless-to-say Kate jumped on and I was happy because she's a lightweight and a top driver."

McVitty said he had been friends with both Connor's dad Stephen and grandfather Jim for many years.

"I started off training about the same time as Jim. Funnily enough the only other trotter I have ever had was named Move On Sparky and I told the owner to give it to someone else like Jim, who loved the square gaiters," McVitty said.

"I didn't dislike them; I just wasn't sure how they needed to be shod. Anyway, Jim got the horse going and won eight races with it in the late 80s and early 90s."

McVitty said his work as a butcher was usually 4a.m to 11a.m, which allowed him the time to train a few horses in the afternoon.

"The other one I'm racing, Our Sir Oliver, was a cheapie but has turned out okay with nine wins and 14 placings. His also won last time at Maryborough (and his two previous to that) on July 15 when Darby McGuigan was the driver," he said.

It certainly seems that McVitty and Maryborough go hand-in-hand at the moment!


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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