19th September 2020
Junior driver Ollie Kite is on a bit of a roll.
Having driven his first winner at Winton last week he backed it up with his second at Invercargill on Wednesday when he drove I’m Trouble to win for trainer Owen Lawrence.
From the second line Kite pushed the Changeover gelding through to sit in the one one. As Targaryen improved at the 400 Kite moved out three wide and got on the back of Freddiesam. At that point I’m Trouble was hard on the bit. As Freddiesam began to feel the pinch Kite hooked I’m Trouble out four wide. The horse let down nicely in the middle of the track to win by two and a half lengths from Mr Clooney.
“I’d watched all his replays and he’s been going well. He travelled well and I decided not to be unlucky. I managed to get on the three wide train. I got out at the quarter and he felt good and he got up to them nice and easy and after that we were home and hosed really. It was a big drop in grade and he got a lovely draw- two on the second line,” Kite said, having understandably watched re-runs of the race a few times. “Thirty plus” he told me.
I’m Trouble winning for Ollie Kite – Photo Monica Toretto
Kite works for Branxholme trainer Nathan Williamson who provided him with his first winning drive – Barika, which is owned by Williamson’s wife Katie.
“It was good to get one for them because they’ve looked after me over the years. She’s a nice mare to drive who’s got plenty of gate speed. She got into the right spot and I was lucky enough to get up the lane. Nathan has kept her for me because she’s one I can learn off.”
Kite doesn’t have any family connections with the harness industry.
“Mum always said when Grandad watched the races my eyes were glued to the screen but I don’t have any racing background whatsoever.”
He became interested in racing when living in Makarewa close to Tony Barron’s track.
“When I was nine I watched Tony’s jog frame go round the track. I found it quite interesting. Julie McEwan and my Mum are quite close friends and Julie got me the job there. Once you get the bug it’s with you forever. I loved it but once Tony moved up the road (Canterbury) I went to Nathan’s while I was still at school.”
Ollie attended James Hargest High School in Invercargill but school was never going to hold his attention once he caught the horse bug.
“Mum reckons I would have been alright actually. I got my Level One real easy with about thirty credits up my sleeve but I just wanted to be with the horses really bad so I left.”
Kite is over 2 metres tall and played volleyball at Hargest.
“With my height I managed to make the Southland team a couple of times. I also played a bit of basketball. Once I left school I played a bit of rugby but it was on a Saturday, the same day as the races so I went the horses way.”
He soon had his trials and workouts licence and graduated to the junior ranks this season.
“I love raceday driving because all the enjoyment comes when you get success. The more you’re out there the more confidence you get. You start to get a feel of how the horses are going.”