Campbell trains first winner
By Jonny Turner
Winton school teacher Jamie Campbell’s pre-race lessons helped Mickey Fitz go to the top of his class at Cromwell on Wednesday.
Already a race-winning driver, Campbell added successful trainer to his resumé when his five-year-old cleared out by nearly four lengths to win race 2.
Campbell juggles teaching agriculture and physical education at Central Southland College with training his race team.
While in the midst of school holidays, Campbell has been far from in holiday mode.
The trainer is an integral part of the crash crew team that helps start races and ensure the safety of horses and drivers at harness meetings across Southland and Otago.
That team has not only been kept busy by a the harness racing schedule over the past fortnight, but also by the rare amount of false starts at the recent Gore and Cromwell meetings.
But Campbell was able to take a short break from his duties to cheer home his first win as a trainer on Thursday.
“I didn’t go on the crash crew for that race, I stood on the hill with my old man and I got pretty excited, as you could imagine.”
Campbell did not spend too much time celebrating after Mickey Fitz’s win, he was straight back out on the track helping to get runners organised for the start of race 3.
“I am all over the show to be honest, especially with the false starts, I am running around like a headless chicken.”
During the school term, Campbell juggles all three of his duties as a teacher, trainer and crash crew assistant.
A passion for harness racing drives his busy schedule.
“I do my horses in the morning and the afternoons, I have four in work, which is probably a wee bit many,” Campbell said.
“Then I am away teaching and it just keeps me busy enough, really.”
“It is good to get out there and do the crash crew, you get a little bit bored at the races, I suppose, when you only have a one or two drives.”
“It is a little bit harder now that I am training, but I still try to help out where I can.”
Mikey Fitz ran the best race of his current campaign when fifth in his last start at Winton. The pacer has thrived since Campbell has had him stationed at Cromwell during the Otago summer harness racing circuit.
“He has always shown he has had the ability to win one.”
“I thought the grass would suit him, they chucked me on the ballot at Gore, so I thought I would take him up to Cromwell.
“He got a little bit of form at Winton the other day and that just topped him off and he has obviously thrived up here.”
Campbell races Mikey Fitz with his good friend, Joe Popham.
Mickey Fitz was driven by Blair Orange, who also drove Plutonium Lady to win the Cromwell Cup for trainer Mark Jones.
The four-year-old relished stepping up to a staying trip for the first time since competing in the Southland Oaks in October when producing a strong win in the 2600m feature.
Plutonium Lady sat parked for the last 1200m of the race before digging deep to hold out the favourite Vintage Cheddar by half a length.