Catch Driver Cadet of the Year - Oliver Kite

Leading up to the announcement of the winner of the 2019 Catch Driver Cadet of the Year we are highlighting the contenders and their involvement in the harness racing industry.

16-year-old Oliver Kite won the Southland Cadet of the Year qualifier heat and is employed by Nathan Williamson in Invercargill.

Oliver is currently licenced as a stable hand, and it was a chance move by his family that introduced him to his passion for harness racing.

His family moved to a farm when he was younger and as fate would have it, it was next door to a harness racing stable.

“I don’t have a harness racing background at all,” he explained. “I watched Tony and Cheryl Barron’s jogger go around the track when I was a young kid and I went from there.”

“When I first told Mum that I wanted to do Kidz Kartz she actually thought I meant go karts. She’s scared of horses so she still says she wonders where I get this passion from,” Oliver said.

But despite her own fears of the equine variety, Oliver’s Mum allowed him to foster his passion.

“My Mum saw that I really enjoyed it, so she used it as a bribe and told me if I didn’t go to school I wouldn’t be allowed to go and help Tony on the weekends,” Oliver laughed. “From then I always saw it as something I wanted to do and Mum’s been really supportive.

“Mum is really proud that I made the final. So is my boss Nathan and also Tony and Cheryl are really proud too.”

Oliver credits a lot of what he has learned to the supportive nature of the Southland harness racing industry.

“Down in Southland everyone is so helpful and approachable. Not only my employer and the Barrons, but everyone is always willing to help out and support you and give advice when I ask. They’re always only too happy to help each other out.”

“In future I’d like to get my junior driver licence and sit that during my time with Nathan. Then down the line I’d really like to get my trainer’s and open horsemen licences too.”

In the qualifying rounds for the Cadet of the Year Oliver found the general knowledge questions the most challenging.

“In the round robin we kind of knew that we would be using things we had learned during the year, so could prepare for that. The general knowledge questions can be so broad that it’s hard to prepare for sometimes.”

He was also tested from left field in the final when he was asked to tackle gymnastics.

“That was definitely a challenge, especially the beam,” laughed Oliver.

Despite the entertainment factor of the light hearted challenges in the final, Oliver was proud to be a part of it.

“Cadet of the Year is a great way to show the industry how hard we have worked throughout the year in cadets. It’s a real privilege to be in the final and representing Southland.”

The 2019 Catch Driver Cadet of the Year final was held on July 24th, with the winner announced at this year’s annual awards ceremony at Addington Raceway on September 28.  

We thank the generous sponsorship of the Catch Driver game, which is a free harness racing game available for download from your app store and allows you to drive in live harness racing games with people from around the world.

To download visit: 



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