Day At The Track

Marr looks to future after losing Miami H

03:00 AM 17 Jun 2011 NZST
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Kevin Marr (right) with Olympic Miami H
Kevin Marr (right) with Olympic - Chef de Mission Dave Currie in 2008.
Miami H - formerly trained by Derek Balle & Owen Gillies at Pukekohe.
Duane Ranger photo

Hindsight is a wonderful thing in harness racing - just don't remind Kevin Marr. The long-time Black Sticks hockey team manager and horse breeder had to authorise putting down his star trotter Miami H last month after a nine-month battle to save him.

The royally-bred son of Muscles Yankee and Marr's former top racemare Martina H had not raced since winning his division of the Australasian Breeders' Crown in Melbourne last August.

That was the only time the uninsured colt raced after Marr and his fellow owners turned down an offer valuing him at close to $500,000.

''We were very close to doing the deal,'' Marr said.

''We were going to keep a share in him and the deal valued him at around $500,000. But, we were going lose control of the horse and he was going to be owned and trained in Australia.

''One of my fellow owners, it was his first time in a horse so we decided to keep him. After all, he was worth probably two thirds of that as a stallion without racing again.''

His stallion worth became an important factor over the past six months as Marr and co-trainer Derek Balle realised Miami H was unlikely to race again.

''When he came home from Melbourne last winter he went out for a spell not far from Pukekohe.

''Derek and I popped out to see him and he looked to have a stone bruise so it was treated. A week later it was worse and he was noticeably lame so we opted for some x-rays.

''He had done something in the paddock and had severely injured his coffin joint. He had torn the cartilage from the bone.

''So we had it operated on and the vets said at the time that it was one of the worst of those types of injuries they had seen. We weren't confident from then on but there was always the possibility he could be retired as a stallion.

''He ended up standing on three legs for a fairly significant period of time and when it got to Christmas, the vets started telling us that they thought they would lose the battle.

''So we got another couple of vet to have a play around and there was some noticeable, quick improvement. For the first time in a long time the bad leg was starting to bear a bit weight and things started to look more positive.

''In fact, Alabar Stud had expressed some interest in him and he was taken out to Alabar for some semen tests. At that point everything was generally heading in the right direction.

''Four weeks later and his good front leg had swollen to three times the size it should be and he started knuckling over. We gave it 24 more hours but in the end we had to make the hard decision.''

Marr and his co-owners were devastated, given the horses ability and breeding and the fact the large offer was turned down before he got injured.

But Marr has taken a philosophical approach to the situation and has turned his attention to trying to find the next Miami or Martina H.

''I have a Revenue filly that is rising two. She is probably the closest resemblance to her mum that I have seen and I often glimpse at her and think I am looking at Martina H.

''I also still have Sound Of Chiola, the dam of Martina H. She is rising 23 and we have a weanling Sundon filly out of her.''

It is the 10th Sundon-Sound Of Chiola foal and a full sister to Martina H, former Interdominion Consolation winner Lleyton H, now a nine-year-old who races in the Greenlane Cup at Alexandra Park tonight, and other notables Denny H (four), Lewis H (three) and Tony H (12).

Marr has not yet decided whether he will the foal, her first filly in seven years.

''I am not sure just yet, we will wait and see what the racing economy does, I may yet sell her.''

Away from the track, Marr is now running a business in Queensland that means he spends three out of every four weeks on the Gold Coast.

He had called time on managing the Black Sticks but said he might saddle up for one more tour in about four months time after an ''SOS'' was sent out recently.

''The programme through to the London Olympics was massive and I could not do it full time.

''They found another person to do it but just last week I got a call from them and may end up doing another tour later in the year.''

by Garrick KNIGHT (Courtesy of the Waikato Times)

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