Breakthrough wins for two trainers at Methven
By Dave Di Somma, Harness News desk
It’s taken him more than a decade and over 100 starts but Steve Harding has now trained a winner - at a racetrack that just happens to be his namesake.
The breakthrough happened at Mt Harding on Sunday when Harding’s four-year-old Manjimup took out the Methven Panel and Paint pace over 2400 metres, while in the first of the day Washdyke trainer Mike Curry landed his first winner with Kingsdown Atom.
“It’s a bit of a relief really,” says Harding after his Big Jim gelding capitalized on the perfect trip in the trail for driver Craig Thornley before taking the passing lane and winning by one and a half lengths.
“I said to my wife as they were going down the back straight if he doesn’t win this one he’s never going to win one.”
His confidence had been boosted by a third placing at Motukarara on September 27.
It was the 102nd time the former amateur driver had lined up a horse at the races since starting out in 2009. He has now had one win, seven seconds and five thirds.
“I’m not in to make money, for me it’s trying to get the best performance out of the horse. If they run to their potential I’m happy.”
Harding has two horses in work at his West Melton property - “Maurice O’Leary’s old place” – and juggles training with his full-time work as an electrician.
“Jeff Whittaker and Ian Shinn have been a massive help to me over the years and I’ve very grateful for what they have done.”
For Curry his win was his first in 24 starts. Now retired, he’s only been training since 2019 though racing’s always been in the blood.
“My grandfather trained in the 1950s, we’ve always had the Kingsdown horses – we’ve had about 12 of them over the years - and they have all been winners”
Mike’s father Lester also trained from the 1960’s through to the early 90’s and, according to HRNZ records, won 32 races.
Yesterday Kingsdown Atom started well in the Brown Pub Methven Punter of the Year pace before handing up to Tyke. He then went outside the leader just before the turn, holding on to win by half a neck for driver Colin De Filippi.
Curry’s win is his first as a trainer, though he has had one as a driver too, when he piloted Kingsdown Lad home at Oamaru in 1980.
Kingsdown Atom’s next start could possibly be a 1700 metre stand at Methven at the end of the month.
For Steve Harding and Mike Curry the grass track season has seen success that’s been literally years in the making.