Day At The Track

Greg Mitchell - Watching the value

07:15 PM 14 Aug 2020 NZST
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Chamonix, harness racing
Trista Dixon gets Chamonix home in Albion Park Gold - @AustPacingGold Brisbane Sales Graduates Heat 2
Dan Costello Photo
Greg Mitchell's journey into harness racing started through one thing. Value for money.
Twelve years ago Mitchell was a thoroughbred owner with "half a dozen" in work before his first venture at "the trots". A friend offered him a share in a claimer.
He can't remember its name, but he remembers he enjoyed the experience so much that he attended the 2007 APG sale and purchased a yearling.
Trained by Bruce Birch throughout his two and three year old seasons, the Ultimate Falcon colt was named Makin Dough.
He raced 15 times for Birch for three wins and eight placings including a second in the QBRED Breeders final at two.
Transferred to Grant Dixon when Birch stepped away from training, Makin Dough ended up winning 15 times in a 50 start career on his way to banking $85,000.
Mitchell was hooked.
"It was a completely different experience from having gallopers," Mitchell said.
"The costs involved were far less and the horses raced more often which meant I became a regular at the trots.
"From a purely entertainment point of view there was no comparison.
"And the more you win, the more you like it," he said.
Nine years and countless wins later, Mitchell is one of Queensland harness racings biggest supporters and owns "about 60" horses.
"There is a band of 10 broodmares and I like to have 20 racehorses in work year round," Mitchell said.
"There is the yearlings and foals and I still buy going horses from New Zealand."
Among the New Zealand imports purchased by Mitchell, and to this day still trained by Dixon, include open class star Alleluia and champion local trotter Our Overanova.
The former won 31 races and over $500,000 while the latter has saluted the judge on 59 occasions and pocketed $480,000 since crossing the ditch.
Whilst those warriors have provided Mitchell with some huge thrills in years gone by, its two of his youngsters that are keeping his silks in the spotlight in recent weeks.

He's Watching winning The Meadowlands Pace

Exciting Mach Three filly Jasper has won four of her six career starts including the $100,000 QBRED final three weeks ago and powerhouse Hes Watching gelding Chamonix has won three of his past five and was a tragedy beaten in his $100,000 QBRED decider.
The pair clash for the first time in the $100,000 APG Brisbane final at Albion Park tomorrow night after clean sweeping last weeks heats, and victory in the final would be the highlight of Mitchell's racing career.
"It virtually started all those years ago at the APG sale so it would be wonderful to share in some of the spoils this weekend," Mitchell said.
"The draws haven't been kind to us that's for sure but I think we have two great chances."
Jasper is the $2.15 TAB fixed odds favourite from the inside of the second line while Chamonix is rated a $10 chance.
And like that first foray into the "forgotten" claimer 12 years earlier, its Mitchell's nous for value for money which leads to the origins of Chamonix.
"In partnership with Burwood Stud I purchased Toute Le Monde and immediately booked her to Hes Watching," Mitchell said.
"In fact, she went to him twice, the results being Chamonix and his yearling sister.
He's Watching p,2, 1:50f, 3, 1:46.4-’14 ($1,129,215)
"He was a stallion who was great value as far as we were concerned and there is little doubt we are very happy with the outcome thus far."
Hes Watching, standing at Tipperary Equine in New South Wales for the first time, is proving himself one of the best stallions in the world with only two crops of racing age.
He sits alongside Bettors Delight, Somebeachsomewhere and Sweet Lou as the only four stallions to be in the top 14 3yo sires average earnings per starter list in Australia, New Zealand and North America.
"Hes Watching is one of the stallions that adds depth to the Australian breeding industry, and he is proving that with results in both hemispheres," Mitchell said.
"I was more that happy to use him when he was standing for $6000, so when he was announced at $2500 and standing in New South Wales I made my bookings immediately.
"With the 150 mare limit introduced for this season I wasn't going to miss out, I'm certain he will cover a full book."
He's Watching - Set five track records and two world records from eight starts as a two-year-old
Like many others, Mitchell is quick to point out the advantages of breeding his Queensland based mares to stallions south of the border.
"A QBRED horse is eligible for $17,500 in bonuses and a New South Wales Breeders Challenge horse is eligible for up to $12,000," Mitchell said.
"Given the opportunity to be able to have horses dual bred and be eligible for both lots of bonuses makes it a logical business choice to capitalise on that.
"It adds great value to them if they are entered at yearling sales, and of course the size of the bonuses makes breeding, either to race or sell, a financial viable option which hasn't always been the case.
"I'm also impressed the stud did what no others will and set a non discounted service fee for the horse.
"He is heavily reduced on previous seasons to be exceptionally affordable for breeders yet still commercially viable to warrant standing him.
"Hopefully going forward there will be more studs to follow suit, because everyone wants the best price, and by setting a non discounted fee, everyone knows they are getting the best price.
"And one thing I've learned in 12 years as a harness racing owner, there is value for money, and it starts by breeding to good stallions at the best price."
Harnesslink Media
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