Kite, Murrell notch first wins
By Jonny Turner
Southland junior driver Ollie Kite gave Barika a perfect run in the trail to secure his first win in the sulky at Winton on Thursday.
The victory was made all the more special as it came in the colours of his employer and mentor, Nathan Williamson.
Though Kite was sitting pretty with a handful of horse at the 400m, he had a few nervous moments when rival horses started to make swooping runs while he waited to take the passing lane.
“It was great – we were travelling pretty good at the 400m.”
“But then there were a couple getting in to it and I thought they might get away on me.”
“But we came back and got them.”
Kite is not from a harness racing background, but soon got hooked on the sport when landing a full time job with Williamson after leaving high school.
“I started off working for Tony Barron and when he moved up to Canterbury I more or less left school a year early and went to work for Nathan full time.”
“And once you have got the bug you can’t get rid of it.”
“Nathan has done a lot for me and it is great to finally get a win for him.”
With more than 800 career wins, there are few better mentors around for Kite to learn his trade from than Williamson.
“He gives me instructions and tips all the time, it never stops.”
“But that is the way I want it to be because he is great to learn off.”
Kite had a good grounding at trials and workouts before beginning his driving career at the start of the new season.
The reinsman had 12 drives and notched two placings before breaking through for his first win on Thursday.
“I had about sixty drives between the workouts and trials and that gives you a lot more confidence when you go to the races.”
“And the more race day drives you have the more confidence you have.”
Kite also drove Get Lucky in to second placing in Thursday’s feature trot.
Another first was notched at Winton when Bardot registered Maria Murrell’s first training win.
Bardot’s shift south from Brendon ‘Benny’ Hill’s Canterbury stable prompted the horsewoman to get her harness racing licence.
“She’s had problems with ulcers, was a bit nervy and lost a lot of condition so Benny thought the Southland grass would be good for her,” Murrell said.
Murrell has a strong background in thoroughbred racing having previously worked for former prominent Southland trainer, the late Kelly Thompson.
Murrell just has Bardot in work and said she has no plans to extend her team despite the successful start she has made to training harness horses.