The names Kirk and Michelle Larsen have become synonymous with Southland Harness Racing in recent years. Together they have built up a successful stable of standardbreds on 170 acres of pristine farmland at Branxholme, a few minutes north of Invercargill, the heartland of Southland. With a strong team of experienced staff, along with several other supporters who are a great help, Kirk goes about preparing horses for their trips to the races - leaving wife Michelle to run the business and administration sides of the stable.
Our goal is to provide to our clients a high standard of training and breaking of young stock, as well as having good working relationship with our owners by keeping them up to date with their horse’s progress throughout their time with us.
Please feel free to contact Kirk or Michelle for any of your enquiries whether its a horse you require to be trained/broken in or a horse to buy.
|Mile Rate: 2-01.1 Last 800m: 58.7 Last 400m: 28.9|
Fourteen-year-old Tristan Larsen gets up bright and early to drive a horse in training before heading off to Southland Boys' High School.
He wants to be a trainer-driver like his father, Kirk, who is a professional horsemen with more than 500 wins to his credit.
It's a short walk from the Larsens' home to their stables. Kirk and wife Michelle own property at Branxholme, with their house and stables next to each other.
Tristan goes to bed at 7.30pm on school nights and is up at 6.30am to drive a horse in speed training. The teenager is back home by 7.30am to prepare for school.
Driving horses at speed and learning skills for race-driving in the future ignite's Tristan's passion for harness racing.
"I love the speed and getting out there and competing," he said.
Tristan is in Harness Racing New Zealand's cadet training programme after being involved with Kidz Kartz for two years. He will probably start driving at workouts in January.
The Larsen stable will have two runners at Southland's first harness meeting of the season at Gore on Sunday.
Melina Lowe (race eight) and her half-brother, Arthur Lowe (race nine), have won and been placed at Addington or Forbury Park meetings through the winter.
Arthur Lowe finished second, beaten a neck, at Addington last Friday night.
Melina Lowe, who won at Addington on August 4 at her last start, is driven in training by Tristan.
"She's the first horse I drove fast [in training]," Tristan said.
"She's lovely to drive, nice and quiet."
Using their latest form as a guide, Melina Lowe and Arthur Lowe should race prominently at the Gore Harness Racing Club meeting.
"They're fit and good enough to get money," Kirk Larsen said.
Larsen heads to tomorrow’s Invercargill Trotting Club meeting with a big chance of landing the Autumn Cup with Bettor Ops.
A win would be some consolation for him not being able to drive the horse.
Fellow southerner Brent Barclay will take the reins on the Bettor’s Delight 4yr-old after Larsen was injured on Monday when he was kicked by a young horse.
"I’m off for a couple of weeks."
Bettor Ops had his first race since early January in Eamon Maguire’s track record-breaking win at Ascot Park last weekend. The hectic pace and the ground Bettor Ops made up on his rivals to run fourth made his effort a strong one.
The gelding has had only one workout leading into his resuming run, so Larsen, from his grandstand view, expects to see a fitter horse.
"He had a bit of a blow after the run which was understandable. It should only bring him on."
The horse faces a completely different challenge this week, going from a 2200m mobile to a 2700m standing start, but Larsen is not concerned.
"He has had one stand before and he was good."
Improved pacer Lambourne Road, a relative standing-start novice himself, is likely to be Bettor Ops’ main opponent. He was the only horse to make significant ground in Titan Banner’s Wyndham Cup demolition job.
At present, Bettor Ops sits 11th on the qualifying rankings of the Harness Jewels 4yr-old male pacers’ section.
But Larsen has no immediate plans to take on the country’s best 4yr-olds. The horse could trek to Addington for graded premier racing, but Bettor Ops’ main aim now is the Southern Country Cups final at Invercargill in April, Larsen said. A win in tomorrow’s Autumn Cup would elevate the pace in the ranking for that final.
Larsen’s only other horse racing tomorrow is among those testing the waters of harness racing’s new ratings system. Melina Lowe, with new driver Blair Orange, drops back from a tough run against progressive 3yr-old filly Trendy Bromac last weekend. Larsen has been pleased with the horse’s recent efforts and thinks she will be more competitive against similar horses under the new ratings system.
- Jonny Turner
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