Dream day for young trainer Keast
By Garrick Knight
Young Christchurch trainer Darren Keast had a day he will never forget when training two upset winners on New Zealand Cup Day, Tuesday.
The 22-year-old could barely believe what had just unfolded before his eyes when Ascalabus won paying $49.10 with his dad, Jamie in the cart.
A couple of hours earlier, the father-and-son combo had opened the day with a victory by trotter Lovey Dovey Moment.
“I absolutely flippin’ can’t believe that that’s happened,” said the younger Keast after the second win.
“At the start of the day I was thinking Lovey Dovey Moment was a live chance.
“And Ascalabus, it’s hard to get confident at $50 but I thought his last start at Addington was as good as it could be.
“He was three-wide and just got beat on the post by a horse we dragged in to the race.”
In another layer to the story, Ascalabus is owned by one of the biggest names of yesteryear, local fisheries businessman, Kypros Kotzikas, who won the New Zealand Cup in 1997 with Iraklis.
“I’m just unbelievably grateful to have Kypros behind me.
“How many young fellas would have a big owner like him behind them?
“We’ve had our issues with the horse.
“This time last year he raced in the Cup Day maiden and finished fourth and we got offered really big money for him.
“But when he was checked over by the vets, he had a niggle in a leg and had to be boxed for six weeks.
“Kypros was probably entitled to take him off me then but he stuck by me and gave me a go.”
Training two winners on the country’s biggest race day is one thing, but having his dad drive them was the cherry on top for Keast.
“It’s just unbelievable.
“He served it up with that trotter; he came out and attacked Majestic Hurricane, which is a known puller, and that was really ballsy.
“But it was the winning of the race.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Dad and his support and I’m forever grateful for everything he’s done for me.”
Keast left school at 15 to go and work in Sydney and then Brisbane before returning to Canterbury.
“I got a bit home sick so came back and started working for Cran Dalgety.”
He will now turn his attention to Auckland a crack at the Inter Dominions, which start at the end of the month.
“Lovey Dovey Moment is about 95 percent sure to go because he trots so much better that way around.
“I’m not sure about Ascalabus though; I’ll see what Kypros is happy doing and go from there.”