Incredible 21st birthday for Keast

NZ HARNESS NEWS

A plan hatched three months ago to set a team for the Westport meeting paid big dividends for young trainer Darren Keast on Wednesday.

On his 21st birthday, Keast took five horses to Patterson Park and won with the first two of them – Midnight Sioux and Lovey Dovey Moment.

Midnight Sioux's victory gave him his first success as a trainer when the horse took out a maiden trot on debut.

Half an hour later, Lovey Dovey Moment came off a 30m handicap to bolt away with the Edward Rennell Appreciation Trot by five lengths to give Keast his second training win.

Later Fortune Tiller and Be Mine Tonight finished third to complete a momentous day for the trainer-driver.

“Things couldn’t have gone much better really and I’m expecting them to all go very well again tomorrow,” said Keast.

Keast had a bit of a hangover on Thursday, but had every right to be celebrating in Westport the night before.

“It’s not ideal being born so close to Christmas Day and while I don’t know exactly what time in the morning it was, I do know that dad [Jamie] was driving at Ashburton on Boxing Day that year and it was touch and go getting there on time.”

Each of Keast’s five runners at Westport have come to him in recent months, with Lovey Dovey Moment and Be Mine Tonight from Henrietta Westrum, the partner of Jamie Keast.

“Henrietta got a job at the prison and it was decided to give me a go with them.

“I had a chat to dad back then and decided to set a team for Westport as it’s a bit hard setting a team for Addington.

“Dreamcoat came to me only 10 days before Westport after being bought by Ross White for $750.

“Ross lives in Waikari and drives down to help me on the weekends, which is greatly appreciated as he brings his own pay so to speak.

“As we’d been talking about going to the Coast for months, he decided to go and get a horse for himself, so it would cap things off just nicely if we can get a result for him on the trip.”

Midnight Sioux is owned by Norm Leacock-Jones and earlier this year was in a paddock and had been registered as a hack by his father Don, who owns and trains Copperhead Rose.

“Norm has been working for me and as he is allowed a horse in work, he asked his father if he could bring him into work.

“He was supposed to be a pacer but he couldn’t pace a yard when he came to me.

“But he has made very rapid progress as a trotter – every hurdle we’ve thrown at him he’s flown over.”

Leacock-Jones has had nothing to do with horses up until a year ago, when his father was diagnosed with cancer on Boxing Day.

Midnight Sioux is a five-year-old Elsu gelding and is the first foal from Load Of Fun, a Fully Loaded mare who won three races as a pacer for Jones.

Lovey Dovey Moment was also a bit special as one of his owners in Oscar Tyler comes from Westport and had trekked down from Auckland to witness his first win at his hometown track.

Keast was expecting the son of Love You to go very well.

“He was second in his first start for me at Ashburton during Cup week and then we raced him consecutive days at Orari and Motukarara.

“Then five days later he raced at Addington to pick up the Met Multiplier and he lost some condition so we gave him a week off to freshen up.

“Over the years he’s either trotted very good or very bad but we knew he was going the best he’s ever been when we left home.”

Somebeachsomewhere mare Fortune Tiller, sacked by Dean Taylor last season, was at long odds but raised a few eyebrows when sticking on for third behind Jay Abernethy’s impressive winner Peter Forsberg.

She was trapped three wide early before having a crack for the lead, but had to sit parked on the journey.

“She would have been second if I hadn’t over driven her, but we were never going to beat Jay’s horse – it won with a leg in the air.”

Be Mine Tonight wasn’t disgraced either in leading them around and holding on for third behind Johnny White in what was her first race for two months.

She will improve with the outing although Keast rates Fortune Tiller and Lovey Dovey Moment as his best chances of further success on the second day of the meeting.

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