Article written by : Michael Guerin
Published by: Harness Weekly
Todd Mitchell says a record season as a trainer will ensure his new passion doesn’t become his full-time job.
Mitchell moved into the top five trainers in the North Island with two wins last weekend, one with McAlister at Cambridge on Thursday and Hazel Maud at Alexandra Park on Friday.
That saw him move to 36 winners for the season, over 50 percent better than his previous personal best of 23 wins in a year.
And that comes on top of Mitchell’s new-found love for thoroughbreds, which he now also trains four of.
While some days that means little more than the gallopers jogging behind the sulky, on fast work days it means Mitchell is at he Cambridge galloping track at 4.30am.
“I’ll go there and take care of the gallopers so they don’t interfere with the standardbreds later on,” said Mitchell
“I always wanted to train a galloper, and after I won a race with Electronic Socks this season I got a few more.
“It’s enjoyable; after all, all you need is a saddle and a bridle, but it’s still very much a hobby.
“The harness horses will always be my main business.”
So much so that the four-time New Zealand Cup-winning driver Mitchell has 29 standardbreds in work, even after selling five this season.
McAlister is one who has tested the boss’s patience but rewarded it with an easy win last Thursday.
“He is a funny horse, because while he works well right-handed at home he doesn’t handle Alexandra Park under race night pressure.
“And he hasn’t really gone that many good races on all-weather track until last Thursday either.
“So that mean he only has certain options.”
Mitchell was primarily going to aim McAlister at the country cups grass circuit next season, but after his sweeping win last Friday he says he may re-think that.
“I hadn’t actually trained him any different leading into that race, so I can’t really explain why he won so well.
“Maybe the softer tracks, for training and racing on, at the moment are helping him,”
He finds it easier to work out how Hazel Maud made it back to the winners circle with her speedy recovery at Alexandra Park last Friday.
“She had gone some good races since coming up here for the winter,” explains Mitchell.
“Two starts ago she was going to run third until she galloped, so I put a bit more weight on her and also added some spreaders because she can just flick a knee a bit.
“They seemed to help her, and she has the speed to do a good job up here.”