Kaikoura a first for Bryers


They say that once you get the taste of racing, it’s always in your blood thereafter.

And in the case of Blenheim horseman Merv Bryers, that is definitely true.

Bryers will travel down State Highway 1 to South Bay Racecourse in Kaikoura on Sunday with maiden three-year-old trotter Monaro Maro, a half-sister to last season’s Group 1 place-getter Monaro Mia.

He’s never been to the Kaikoura races, but that’s not to say the comeback horseman doesn’t have a storied history in the game.

He used to drive against Maurice Holmes and Peter Wolfenden when a junior driver in the early 70s and when he came back in to the game in the early 90s, he worked for the late Noel Taylor.

“I was breaking horses in for Noel at East Tamaki, back when Mark, Barry and Roy Purdon got all his good ones.

“Before that I was up in Kumeu with Don Hayes and Arthur Gibbons.”

Bryers drove a handful of winners between 1971 and 1993, but is yet to record a training winner from limited starters.

He’s back working a team of horses later in life, and hopes Monaro Maro could be that first training winner.

After raising a family, Bryers retired to Blenheim and one day decided to go down to the local trotting track.

“I kind of got married and had to go and get a real job. I walked away from the game.

“But my children have all grown up and flown the coop and we’re now in Blenheim.

“I went down to the track one day and met Brent Weaver and started helping him out.

“I was quite enjoying it and it’s sort of carried on from there.

“Graham Neill also supported me before he retired and encouraged me to get back in to driving.

“Graham was training Monaro Mia and he asked me to drive it one day and said what do you think?

“I said I think it will qualify and he said put your money where your mouth is.

“So, I drove her in the qualifier and she got her ticket.”

Of course, Neill has now retired, Weaver has moved to Christchurch and Monaro Mia is in Sydney.

But Bryers, well he’s got his trainers license out and is pottering around with a few of Monaro Mia’s relatives.

“I’m in Graham’s old barn at the track and when he retired I took over Monaro Maro.

“Maurice Wharton bred and owns her and gave her to me on the condition that I break in Monaro Mia’s full brother for him.

“As it’s turned out, Maurice has given us a half share in the full brother (Monaro Mako), and I’ll break him in in February or March.

“I’ve also got another Superfast Stuart and an Imperial Count which I leased from up in Auckland off Bill Hickey.”

Monaro Maro faces a tough task against Kings Landing on Sunday, but could easily fill a place spot if her excellent run at Ashburton on Labour Day is any indication.

“She’s got a lot more speed than Monaro Mia, but I’m not sure she’s quite as tough just yet.

“I just want to see her trot all the way; it’s all a new experience for her, but I think it’s coming to her fairly quickly.”


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