Day At The Track

MacKinnon nabs first North Island Oaks

11:04 AM 06 May 2017 NZST
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Jack MacKinnon
HRNZ photo

Jack MacKinnon’s most significant driving win also came in his own training silks at Alexandra Park last night.

The 21-year-old former Mount Albert Grammar student trained and drove the lightly tried Kissmeimloaded to win the inaugural $25,000 Haras des Trotteurs North Island Oaks for 3-year-old pacing fillies.

“This is the biggest win of my career – both training and driving. I just want to thank Dad and Ray for having faith me. The horse has had her fair share of troubles and I was left with this race to target.

“I just want to thank the Auckland Trotting Club and the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Association for getting the race off the ground. We need more trotting races for fillies and this will now put her in good stead when she hits the broodmares’ paddock one day,” MacKinnon said.

Kissmeimloaded is owned by Jamie MacKinnon of Olympic Swiss Watches Limited and Ray Thomson. The Majestic Son – Dutch Annie brown filly provided MacKinnon with his first training success of the season and 13th in the sulky.

“It doesn’t get any better than this winning an Oaks race behind the only horse you train. She used to be trained by Barry (Purdon) at Clevedon, but he told Dad the horse would be more suited to one-on-one training.

“So I got a ready-made trotter trained by a champion. All I had to do was put the polish on. I think most of the credit should go to Barry and his team,” MacKinnon said.

MacKinnon took over the training duties last September after Kissmeimloaded won a workout for Purdon. Last night's win came in just her second start.

Kissmeimloaded finished fifth on debut at Cambridge Raceway on ANZAC Day when a warm favourite. Last night she was the $23.70 fifth favourite of five, beating $1.30 hot pot Chevron Express (Dexter Dunn) by a head.

"I served it up to the favourite down the back straight the last time because I knew my filly could stay a bit. I was delighted that she out-toughed the South Island horse in the straight.

"That was a real gusty performance because Chevron Express is no mug. She has won five races. My filly can only get better now," MacKinnon said.

Meanwhile the CEO of the NZSBA, Brad Reid, said it was very satisfying to get the North Island Oaks off the ground, despite the small numbers.

"It was disappointing to see only six nominate but we had to start somewhere and can only improve upon this. Having spoken with a few horseman and Regan (Cotter) at the ATC most agree a date change and some programming tweaks can be made."

"A number of trainers said they would have travelled from the south if there was a lead up race to the Oaks, giving connections of fillies two bites at the cherry up north so to speak. Being programmed so close to the Derby may have robbed that race of a runner or two also," Reid said.

The CEO believed an alternative appeared to be programming the Northern Trotting Oaks around the Great Northern Derby (March 10th) which this year

was run three weeks before the New Zealand Trotting Oaks (March 31) at Addington. The NZ Trotting Derby is run a week later at Addington (April 7). 

"The fillies deserve the opportunity to compete against their own sex more regularly and I understand HRNZ, the Sires Stakes Board and clubs are looking at how they can accommodate them. 

"However it's up to the owners and trainers to support them when and as they do. Last night was a great example of their being no certainties in racing with many feeling they were outclassed by Chevrons Express. What an amazing training effort from a young guy like Jack!" Reid said.

"Thanks must also go to Dave Sanders and his team at Haras des Trotteurs for making it happen," he added.

Reid then made people aware that there were 14 Group races and $1.5 million up for grabs in 3-year-old pacing events each year.

"With the 3-year-old trotting fillies there are two races collectively worth $65,000 in stakes, and yet they cost the same to train. Unfair?" Reid questioned.

MacKinnon agreed saying he would now trek to Christchurch with Kissmeimloaded.

“The North island Oaks is a great start but more needs to be done for young trotters. Trotting is more popular these days. Last night for example five of the 10 races carded by the Auckland Trotting Club were trotting events.

“I think we have now virtually qualified for the Jewels Final (10th) so I might give her a run in the (Listed PGG Wrightson) New Zealand Yearling Sales Final On May 19 as a lead-up,” MacKinnon said.

Kissmeimloaded trotted the 2200m mobile in 2:47.8 (mile rate 2:02.7) and came home in 60.1 and 29.1. Bonnie Highlander and Maurice McKendry were four-and-a-half lengths back in third.

Kissmeimloaded was bred by Tony and Anne Parker.

MacKinnon had a good night at the office last night. He also drove his boss's (Robert Dunn) pacer, Robbie Burns, to win the feature pace - the $13,999 Culley's Handicap for the R68 to R111 pacers.

"It was a night to remember all right. 'Robbie'went real well too. That was his ninth win.

"You have hot and cold nights in racing and last night was a hot one and one I won't forget in a hurry," MacKinnon said.

"I'm just thankful to everyone for giving me the chance to get out there and do what I love," he added.

Duane Ranger

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