Odgers trains first winner in more than a decade

by Rob Courtney

North Canterbury trainer-owner-breeder Ken Odgers has been licenced to train standardbreds since 1983 and the win of Prima Donna on Sunday at Addington was his first training success since 2009.

But if you think he has been idle during this time, one only has to listen to his ‘back story’ to realise this is far from the reality for the now 67-year-old.

Only ever doing a few at a time, including all aspects of the training, Odgers has clearly been a ‘seller’ of his stock over a long period of time.

"I have to sell to survive. I’ve probably sold 100 horses in my time in the game”.

Back 20 plus years ago, harness followers would remember names like Place Of Glory, Lifeswhatyoumakeit, Passion N Glory (10 NZ wins), Sir Artplace (6 wins) and Smoke N Mirrors (10 wins) as good stable winners here on this side of the Tasman, before often being sold on.

Black Armbro was his first official winner back in 1983. He won three before being sold to overseas interests.

Officially, Odgers has trained 58 winners from 479 starters winning close to $500k in stakes with a respectable UDR of .2219.

But in essence, many of Odgers most promising horses have been snapped up courtesy of impressive trial performances and often for money too good to turn down.

Obi One won 10 in Australia going 1:52 and amassing $125k along the way and belongs to the same maternal family as Odgers' latest winner, Prima Donna (4m Betterthancheddar – Miss Glory).

The interest in the horses goes right back to his very early days where his parents had a riding school at Bexley.

“A lot of the local Canterbury jockeys started there and I’m pretty sure Michael House learnt to ride at our place,” Odgers fondly remembers.

Initially training close to Rangiora racecourse, a personal family tragedy had his family on the move to the Nelson district for a time and then there was a stint in Oamaru where he became good friends with the Williamson family but the calling to come back to North Canterbury was always strong.

A belated ‘OE’ a couple of years ago and a constant desire to avoid NZ winters for three months has kept stable numbers down in recent times but a couple of purchases at the most recent weanling sale at Karaka have reaffirmed Odgers desire to ‘do what he does best’.

“We have bought a few properties in the last ten years and done them up to finance our most recent move to South Eyre road where we have 15 acres and a track and we are well set up for the horses.”

The two weanling colts he bought at Karaka were a Lazarus – Monkee Around colt offered by Alabar and a Downbytheseaside – Flying colt from the Macca Lodge draft, both for similar money.

Odgers believes that Prima Donna can go on and do a job but that time will be her best friend as is the case with many of the stock of Betterthancheddar.

No longer breeding after losing his two broodmares (not at the same time), the astute, straight talking trainer will now concentrate his energies on his two most recent purchases, a reminder that he still has the ‘bug’ for the sport that has consumed much of his life.


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