South Auckland barn hot to trot ahead of racing’s return

By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk

The colours of South Auckland trainers Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett are set to feature prominently amongst the northern trotting ranks when racing resumes next week.

The South Auckland couple were able to utilise their 20-acre private training property over the COVID-19 enforced lockdown period and kept much of their 18-strong race team in work.

“It wasn’t a problem for us really,” Hackett said. “We have got two tracks and a straight-line bungy pool, it was just a matter of carrying on.

“We couldn’t go anywhere, so we just carried on working.”

The benefits of being able to keep their team in-work over COVID-19 Alert Level 4 were seen at the Pukekohe workouts on Friday where they were represented by their 15-strong team of trotters.

Half a dozen of their team featured in the opening heat over 2500m, which was taken out by Our Spitfire, a half-sister to Group Three winner Mum’s Pride.

The Wallis-Hackett team was also to the fore two heats later taking out the quinella in the R57 & faster 2500m trot with Vatican Hill and Red Castleton.

“Vatican Hill was good, Michelle was really happy with him. He has come through his run well, so onwards and upwards,” Hackett said.

Recent stable addition One Over Da Son finished unplaced in that heat, but Hackett said he is looking forward to the son of Group One-winning mare One Over Kenny making his northern debut.

“He is a nice little horse and he will race at Auckland (in two weeks),” Hackett said.

Hackett was pleased with his team’s hit-out on Friday and is excited about returning to the races next week.

“They are all nice horses to get back racing,” he said. “Hopefully we can get the stake money up to make it worthwhile.”

Hackett has been pleased with the way his stable has been tracking this season, with nine wins and 34 placings, but said the lockdown came at an inopportune time.

“I am happy enough,” he said. “I was just a bit annoyed that we had to go into lockdown.

We had a lot of placings, but that is just the way it goes.”

Hackett’s barn consists entirely of trotters and he said he enjoys the challenge the squaregaiters can bring.

“It’s good when you can shoe them yourself and get them trotting good, it is really rewarding,” he said. 

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