Season review: Michael Guerin
By Michael Guerin
Usually it is a difficult task working out my favourite moment of any given harness racing season.
A year can be a long time in harness racing, particularly this year.
With the mid-season lock down monumental occasions like Cup week and Auckland Inter Dominions now seem a life time ago.
Both were touched with greatness, either for the occasion and emotion of Blair Orange winning the Cup with Cruz Bromac or the
sheer bloody-mindedness of Ultimate Sniper’s Inter Dominion Pacing Final.
Before and after there were horses I adore doing stunning things while I also felt genuine pride over how so many harness racing trainers, drivers and administrators handled themselves fighting back from Covid, getting on with the job.
So for all its trials and tribulations, season 2019-20 has some special moments.
But mine came in two different countries so far apart, countries I am glad I am not in right now.
Way back last August 24 on a freezing cold night at Melton, I owned my first group one harness racing winner.
It wasn’t without controversy as our little trotter Kratos finished second in the Breeders Crown three-year-old trot but was promoted to first as the first past
the post galloped and the margin was only a nose.
I’ve been to over a dozen Breeders Crowns but this time I watched on the TAB app on my phone in a hotel in New York. I was there working and work has always come
before fun when it comes to racing
Would I have liked to be at Melton? Sure, it would have been great to have been on the receiving end of the handshakes for once.
But I can confirm Saturday night in New York cashed up (yes, I backed him) after winning a group one is about as fun as it gets. The Sunday … not so much.
I’ve won plenty of races as an owner, including a Sales Series at Addington worth $150,000 when I was on Trackside, which is a surreal experience.
But this time it was different. Not because it was a group one but because Kratos, for all his faults, is our horse.
I own him with my brother Barry and our wives but more importantly I chose him myself from the sales. No vets, nobody else’s opinion, no shares in somebody else’s horse.
He is 100 per cent ours.
I went to see to him at the most remote box on the sales grounds out of respect for his late breeder Bruce Lloyd (a true gentleman), I loved the colt straight away and got him
cheap at $20,000.
I have always liked John and Josh Dickie so he ended up with them. That alone has been a pleasure as I have got to know both of them and their partners far better. Quality people.
But we never had the best trotter, we still don’t have.
But I spent countless hours researching and believed we could win the Crown and John and Josh, who might have thought we were crazy, supported that dream the entire way.
The month-long trans tasman trip was going to be a money loser unless we actually won so didn’t really make financial sense.
But for decades I have been advising trainers on whether they should or shouldn’t take this horse or that to Australia. They ring, I give them my honest opinion.
It a compliment to be asked.
If they can’t decide, if the result looks unsure, I always say the same thing to them.
“At the end of the day, don’t you buy horses to be in the best races?”
Which is why be bought Kratos. And why he was at the Breeders Crown. Him being at Melton that night was me putting my money where my large mouth is.
And he won. We won.
So next time I advise an unsure trainer I can say “well, if he was mine, I’d send him over cause that is what life is all about.”
Because we did. And little Kratos (with help from John, Josh and his partner Sammy) proved that some times you just have to roll the dice.