Sixteen year old Ollie Kite, works for Branxholme trainer Nathan Williamson and is on a bit of a high at the moment.
Last week he was announced as the Southern representative in the Catch Driver Cadet of the Year Final which will be held in Christchurch on Wednesday 24th July. The winner will be announced at the 2019 Annual Harness Racing Awards on Saturday the 28th September.
“It’s great to represent Southland. I won the local competition by a good 50 points. I’m pretty happy with that,” he said.
Kite says the Cadet of the Year competition is not just about Standardbreds.
“From the videos from the last two years it’s been very out there. They’ve done rock climbing, dancing and commentating. I’d like to say I’ll go pretty well at dancing but you never know.”
Southlanders have a very good record at the Cadet of the Year with Ellie Barron winning last year’s final and Kieran McNaught the previous year.
Kite, who has no family involved in the industry, became involved in Harness Racing when he lived at Makarewa.
“I used to live over the back of Tony Barron’s and I’d watch the jogger going round. I thought that looks cool. I went over and met them and that’s how it all started.”
He was also part of the Kidz Kartz.
“I asked Mum if I could do Kidz Kartz on a Wednesday night at Wyndham when I was seven. She thought I was talking about Go Karts. After doing a year of Kidz Kartz I wanted to work with the big horses.”
So he started worked for Tony and Cheryl Barron on Saturday mornings. When the Barron’s moved to Christchurch he started working at the weekends and during the holidays at Nathan Williamson’s barn.
He left school last year and took up full-time work with Williamson.
“I love working full time with Nath. I learnt a lot at Nathan’s especially with the driving side of things. I’ll hopefully stay with him throughout my junior drivers career. There’ll be a lot of good opportunities down here as there’s always a shortage of juniors.”
He says he enjoys being involved in the industry and has taken up the challenge of breaking in yearlings.
“I like working with young stock; seeing yearling coming from nothing, winning a race or trialling and selling for good money. It’s a thrill.”
He’s already broken in three young horses. “I’ve been pretty lucky really. They’ve all been quiet and I haven’t had any difficult ones yet. I’m sure they’re coming.”
The first horse he broke in was Sunday Invasion, a rising three year old trotter out of the unbroken stallion Majestic Invasion (Armbro Invasion). He’s owned by Grant Sim.
“Nathan got him for me for a wee challenge. I was lucky he was really quiet.”
He’s also broken in a Bettor’s Delight filly out of Bootie Bromac. Bootie Bromac, a McArdle mare, won six races and won a mile in 1-56.8 at her first start as a two year old. She was also placed in 1-54.8. This is her first foal.
Another to have his early education part supervised by Kite is a Bettors Delight colt out of Wanaka Bay. He’s a brother to Mr Mojito (8 New Zealand wins and 5 Australian wins) and Mr Kiwi (4 wins).
Another is rising two year old filly Pop Denario (Rocknroll Heaven – Southern Delight). Owned by Pauline and Mark O’Connor Southern Delight won three races from just nine starts and was placed in four other starts.
“She’s only a yearling so it’s hard to really tell but I think she should be pretty good.”
Kite says he’s sent away his application for a trials licence and hopes to get his junior driver’s license at the beginning of the 2020-2021 season.
His favourite drivers are Nathan Williamson and Mark Purdon and the best horse he’s driven is Tasman Bromac.