Burt Munro does it again
By Garrick Knight
Veteran trotter Burt Munro booked himself another month of racing when winning the first Monte of the year at Alexandra Park on Friday night.
The rising 13-year-old, who is approaching 200 lifetime starts and not overly blessed with ability, was all set for a spell through late June and early July after a rare winless season.
But his breeder, owner and trainer, Susan Branch, had a late change of heart.
“He was due to go out for a break and when I saw this race was programmed as a reserve only, I was reluctant to keep him going.
“But it got off the ground and even though my husband (Murray) wasn’t happy about it, we decided to race.
“He said we’re wasting our time from a mobile over a mile and we might as well put him out.
“But with the two previous monte race winners (Majestic One and Grenado) ineligible, I decided to push on.”
The old boy proved manners and guile make up a big part of these novelty races by getting the job done in the hands of former jockey, now thoroughbred trainer, Tayla Wenn.
Wenn is a longtime friend of the family through her association with the Branch’s son, David, CEO at Cambridge Raceway.
“It was very special to get the win with her; she absolutely loves the horse and has always gotten on well with him,” said Branch.
Making the win even more remarkable was the fact that Burt Munro had not seen a saddle since the monte at Pirongia on Boxing Day – six months ago.
“He hadn’t been ridden since then. We didn’t put the saddle on him until race night.”
The race was mired by misbehavior – four of the seven runners were disqualified for rule breaches leaving just Burt Munro, Sol Invictus and M’Lord Mackendon as official finishers.
With four montes programmed at Alexandra Park through July, Burt Munro’s spell has now been put on hold.
“His holiday has been put further back. But ours hasn’t; we’re going to Brisbane next week.
“David’s going to meet us over there too, so I’ll send him to Peter Ferguson, who has gotten good results with him in the past.
“Peter won with him at Hawera one year when we went away.”
Burt Munro has been slated for retirement on numerous occasions. And so, too, has his trainer.
But a willingness to keep racing has kept both horse and trainer in action the past few seasons.
“He goes just good enough to keep him going all the time and he loves being out there.
“When he’s well, he does well.
“He’s just had a few niggling issues that have bothered him.
“Mucus in his lungs, sore throats, things like that.
“It taken a while to get him right, but he’s happy and healthy now.”