The Dorchester (blue) seen winning at the Cup trials in November. Photo: Race Images.
Young trainer Mitchell Kerr has endured one of those weeks that no trainer ever wants to experience.
The strike-rate horseman, who is building a good reputation for himself, lost his star pacer The Dorchester yesterday after an intense battle with illness.
For Kerr, the death of his marque horse - so early in both of their careers - was a tough pill to swallow.
“It’s been tough. Losing any horse is tough,” Kerr said.
“But he was a bit more like a part of the family, you know like a dog that you’ve had for 10 years - he meant a lot to us.”
Ear-marked a month ago for the Northern Derby, The Dorchester was kept in Canterbury to undergo a throat operation and was also gelded in the process.
After the operations he developed some issues and was rushed to the vets where he was worked on for two-and-a-half days.
“I can’t say enough about Sam Taylor and his team at the Rangiora Vet Centre,” said Kerr.
“They worked around the clock to try and save his life - their effort was huge.
“But unfortunately, yesterday we had to make the call.”
Owned by a group of Kerr’s friends, The Dorchester had won five of his seven career starts including an impressive effort on Cup Day last year.
He also claimed a New Zealand record for all comers when he paced 2:52.5 for 2400 metres at Ashburton last October.
“He was a pretty special horse with a huge amount of talent and it’s going to be bloody hard to replace him, that’s for sure.”
Kerr will be hoping his luck takes a turn for the better on Sunday when he lines up three exciting prospects at the Wyndham meeting including a brilliant debut winner, Smokin By.
“Like I thought he would, he took a couple of days to get over the first up win - but he’s been great since.
“He’s drawn one, which is great because he has immense gate speed.”
There will be plenty of eyes too on the resumption of speedy filly Come Dance With Me, who endured a horror trip to Auckland.
“She got really crook up there and started losing her hair and everything, so we’ve just put that behind us.
“Her trial was exceptional I think and she’s back to where she was before we went north, so I expect her to be hard to beat.”
The daughter of Bettor’s Delight paced 1:54.8 when winning at Ashburton late last year.
Kerr’s third runner for the day is debutant two-year-old Zinny Mach in the Kindergarten Stakes.
“He’s got a good draw too and has gate speed so should get a nice trip on the markers.
“It’s a hard ask as there’s some nice ones in there but he’s not a bad horse.”
This past week aside, Kerr is enjoying a good a season with 13 winners from 50 starters and the promise of a whole lot more before the end of the season.