Day At The Track

New chapter begins for Kelly

10:00 AM 03 Jul 2020 NZST
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Trainer Kelly Stuart-Mitchell with her trotter Hey Listen,Harness racing
Trainer Kelly Stuart-Mitchell with her trotter Hey Listen – they both have their first engagements on Sunday at Cranbourne

After well over a decade of being mentored and working with some of the best, Kelly Stuart-Mitchell is about to launch her own harness racing career.

The 31-year-old former Kiwi was granted a Victorian trainer's licence about five weeks ago.

And she is wasting no time jumping in the deep end with her first starter going around at Cranbourne this Sunday night.

Three-year-old bay gelding Hey Listen (Crazed-Catchya Maya (Yankee Spider) will make his debut in the $7000 Aldebaran Park Trot at 7.30 pm.

The enthusiastic horsewoman has the pedigree for success, with her father Robert a former outstanding trainer, and her brother Todd a highly respected trainer-driver.

"I grew up in a 'horsey' town, Cambridge, on the North Island," Kelly said.

"There were always horses around when I was growing up because Dad had big teams in work and mum did the yearling preparations. I can clearly recall the first horse I ever got-it was given to me for my fifth birthday!" she said.

"Dad enjoyed the square-gaiters and that may be rubbing off onto me a little because three of mine are trotters."

Kelly has worked for some of the best along her journey, having had stints with legendary NZ Hall of Famer Barry Purdon for seven years and the formidable Victorian team, Andy and Kate Gath for five years. She also spent nine months with the highly-successful WA combination of Greg and Skye Bond.

"They have all been a massive influence on me, not only as mentors, but as friends. As well I'm so grateful for all the help that Joe Pace is giving me. I'm working my horses out of his place at Melton and I just love it there," Kelly said.

"I'm pretty excited to have my own starter after all this time. A win of course would be a fairytale, but I'm really just hoping that he does everything right," she said.

"He didn't put a foot wrong in a recent trial and we were happy with the way he handled himself. There's quite a few owners in the horse, including my partner Darren Aitken, who along with my parents and family, is my greatest supporter."

And while she's starting quietly, Kelly expects soon to build the stable to four, and eventually to get a good team together.

"We have one in New Zealand that Todd is keeping ticking along while we're waiting for transportation to get it over here," she said.

"I thoroughly love training them. I did drive in trials many years ago, but I'll leave that side of things to the experts!"

Hoofnote: Robert Mitchell enjoyed success with Just An Excuse (Live Or Die-My Excuse (Smooth Fella) winner of two NZ Cups, the 2004 $75k Ballarat Pacing Cup and several other feature events. The gelding retired with 16 wins and eight placings from 27 starts for $877,000. Todd drove the superstar for his dad. Robert is now retired on a huge farm at Raglan, a small beachside town on the North Island of NZ, where he prepares yearlings for sale.

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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