Day At The Track

Kerr makes flying start

09:40 AM 08 Aug 2017 NZST
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Mitchell Kerr

Rookie Rangiora trainer Mitchell Kerr has two potential Derby contenders and a perfect three wins from three starts to open the new harness racing season.

Kerr, 25, is in his first full season as a trainer based at Rangiora Raceway and produced impressive Addington three-year-old winner The Dorchester on Friday night, followed by another exciting three-year-old in Alta Shelby, who scored easily at Oamaru on Sunday.

He also trains four-year-old American Ideal gelding Run Boy Run, who won well at Oamaru.

“It’s been a lucky start really. I’m still pinching myself,’’ Kerr said on Monday.

The Dorchester, by Mach Three, is the first foal of five-win Falcon Seelster mare Meet Me In Mayfair.

“He’s got a big motor there and a lot of natural ability … I think he’ll go a long way but he’s as green as grass.

“He was going to win by two or three lengths, but knocked off and started pissing round. He’s got a lot to learn,’’ said Kerr.

The colt settled back and moved up parked at the 800m at Addington, but ran greenly in the last 200m for leading driver Blair Orange, hanging on to beat Benhope Rulz by a head and deny rookie junior driver Ben Hope his first race win. 

The Dorchester ($1.60) clocked 2:25.8 (mobile 1950m), with his last 800m in 55.7s and the 400m in 26.9.

“He’s paid up for all the big three-year-old races so hopefully he keeps improving,’’ said Kerr.

“It was his first time off the place, apart from the Rangiora workouts where I train from. 

‘’There was a bit of an unknown factor on Friday night, but he delivered which was great.’’

Alta Shelby, a half-brother by Mach Three to Alta Orlando (six wins, 2014 Sales Series winner), is also a potential Derby contender and was never out of second gear winning at Oamaru for driver Matt Anderson

“The more racing he has the better he’ll be,’’ said Kerr. 

Kerr is the son of veteran Ohoka-based trainer Paul Kerr, who gets the young horses up and going before sending them to Mitchell for the last two months of their build-up to racing.

‘’Dad had him [Alta Shelby] originally and had a good opinion of him. His manners are improving all the time.’’

Anderson, who recently left the Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen All Stars stable, helps Kerr in the mornings at Rangiora and the trainer is keen to give him more chances. 

“He’s a good wee driver with a future. He’s really neat, looks good in the cart and makes good decisions.’’

Anderson gave Run Boy Run a dream run in the trail and he scored nicely in the junior drivers’ race at Oamaru, clocking 3.15 for the mobile 2600m, his last 800m in 56.9s.

“He’s been knocking on the door and was really unlucky [third when late clear] at Rangiora the start before. He’s developed into a nice horse and won it pretty easily.’’

The Dorchester will probably head to the Kurow meeting at Oamaru on August 20, while Alta Shelby will target Addington.

‘’The Dorchester has the edge at this stage on ability, but they are both really nice horses.’’

Kerr says talented four-win pacer Forgotten Highway is ‘’coming up really good’’ after a short spell.

“Hopefully, we can get him to the New Zealand Cup meeting and up to Auckland in December.’’

Kerr has previously worked for his father, Robert Dunn at Woodend Beach and Gareth Dixon in Auckland, going out on his own full time this season after securing 10 boxes and a barn at Rangiora Raceway and developing the outside yards and paddocks, before moving the horses in about June 20.

“Dad does the young ones and jogs them up - then they come over to me for the last couple of months. It works out really good.’’

Kerr has driven 112 winners since 2009, but always wanted to train on his own.

“I have always really loved the training side of it … Dad pretty much taught me everything I know and you just sort of take the good points from trainers like Gareth Dixon and Robert Dunn and mould it all together with your own ideas.’’

With his blue and yellow colours atop the national premiership early on, he has made the ideal start.

NZ Harness News

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