Morrinsville dentist Simon Rees leads a busy lifestyle, and Saturday promises to be another action-packed day.
Rees, who juggles training racehorses and taking sole-charge of his dental practice in the east Waikato town, will saddle-up Laekeeper in the Boutique Body Corporates Great Northern Hurdle (4190m) at Ellerslie.
The eight-year-old jumper won the Pakuranga Hunt Hurdle (3350m) at the same venue a fortnight ago and has duly been installed the $3.60 favourite for Saturday’s $125,000 feature.
“It’s a busy life,” Rees said. “I work six days as a dentist, so I am not sure how I fit it all in. I’m up at 4:45am and I truck about five horses to Te Aroha every morning. I am back at the dental surgery by 9am.”
Rees is hoping there will be no tricky root canals on Saturday so that he has plenty of time to get to Ellerslie, where he will also start progressive stayer Maestro Blu in the JRA Trophy (2100m) on what could be a bumper day for the owner-trainer.
“I will start at 8:30am in the surgery and I will work until about 11am. I have five patients booked in, so I hope they are relatively straight-forward,” he said.
Timaru-born Rees has spent a lifetime in and around horses and has a passion for staying horses and jumpers.
“I grew up riding ponies around South Canterbury. From the age of about seven we used to pack our lunches and spend all weekend on horseback.
“After I went to University I got into horse training a little bit, but then I also got into marathon running.
“I have probably been training on and off for twenty years.”
As if running a dental practice and training a small team wasn’t enough, the Morrinsville horseman also dabbles in thoroughbred breeding.
“I might have a couple of yearlings to sell at Karaka next year and I also keep a few to race,” he said.
“Its everyone’s dream to have a good stayer. With Laekeeper’s grandmother I went specifically to Australia to buy her because she had left Laebeel (Gr.1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) runner-up) at that stage.”
It has largely been maintenance work for Laekeeper since his Pakuranga Hunt triumph, but Rees revealed the hurdler has been thriving in recent times courtesy of some time at the beach.
“He goes up to Waiuku Beach with Catherine Cleghorn for some of his major gallops. We have only just done that over the last few months because he really enjoys the beach work.
“She does a really good job on the final gallop and it is something different from the track.”
Laekeeper has, to date, provided Rees with training highlights of the Pakuranga Hunt Hurdle and last year’s Sydenham Hurdles (3100m) at Riccarton, and the Christchurch track will play host to stablemate Maestro Blu later this season, should he continue to make good progression.
“I am expecting a good run from him tomorrow,” Rees said.
“He should have nearly won last start, he just got back too far coming around the bend and ran out of time to pick them up.
“I’ve got him nominated for the New Zealand Cup (Gr.3, 3200m) and if he goes well tomorrow he will probably head down south in the next few weeks.
“I’ve just turned down a reasonable offer for him from Australia, but I do like him and I’d like to see him become a jumper once he finishes on the flat.” – NZ Racing Desk