Beaver eyes up breakthrough win in Kaikoura

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk 

Southland trainer Mark Shirley is hoping for some 2011 Rugby World Cup-type heroics from his first ever starter at Kaikoura on Sunday.

Shirley, who trains in partnership with his wife Debbie, will line up Beaver in Race 4 at South Bay Racecourse, after two placings in his opening two starts down south.

The horse is named after All Black Stephen Donald and Shirley says the horse has similar characteristics to the famous rugby player

“He’ll never let you down”.

But Shirley does have one big reservation after drawing 10 .

“If he was drawn off the front row he’d be a good chance, but it’s now in the lap of the gods off the second row, I’m hoping for some Blair Orange magic.”

“He’s a strong horse, and he follows the speed, so the faster the better.”

There are six races on Sunday, with Monday the feature meeting. It includes the Group 3 Majestic Son South Bay Trotters Cup where Sundees Son will start favourite, as will stable-mate Classie Brigade in the Group 2 Kaikoura Cup.

This is the first time Mark Shirley has raced horses at Kaikoura but the seaside spot is a popular and regular hang-out for wife Debbie as her brother Shane Smedley lives there.

“He owns the Kaikoura bakery – it’s only closed two days of the year, Christmas day and the day of the Kaikoura races!”

Mark was in charge of the 740 kilometre two-day float trip from Invercargill with Beaver a mate for the stable’s very good trotter in Rydgmont Milly, who won the last of her nine races at Forbury Park a month ago.

She lines up on Monday in race 10 against the likes of Majestic Hurricane and Didjabringthebeers.

“She’s a lovely wee mare but in the past she hasn’t travelled well. But it’s a small field and if she’s well she could be in the money.”

The plan is then to start her in a supporting race at Addington on Show Day.

But before then it’s Beaver’s turn to see if he can kick some goals at Kaikoura, just the same as Donald did at Eden Park on that day in October nine years ago.

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