Mike Berger may joke these days about his age but that experience is helping him still train plenty of winners with his small team.
Berger captured the first race at Cambridge on Thursday night when trotter Quik Sharnie made it two wins on end in the hands of Ben Butcher, downing leader Del Shannon via the passing lane. It was his seventh training success this year.
But the Waikato trainer wasn’t there to see the win, watching from Canterbury where he had Cos I Can finish eleventh in Friday night’s $90,000 Hydroflow Country Cups Final.
Berger says he owes the win partly to fellow trainer Dave Marshall, the son of trainer Kyle, with Dave having looked after the team this week while Berger has been in the south.
“Dave has been great stepping in because I don’t actually have any staff anymore,” Berger told HRNZ.
“I had a staff member about 3 months ago but they left and I am now down to eight horses and I work in a bit with Rodney Frampton, who has been a great help.
“But eventually with the numbers I’d like to get down to 4-5.
“For that reason I don’t want to take on a fulltime worker only to have to turn around one day and tell them the job is gone.”
"The reason for the shrinking team is nothing to do with talent but more the fact Berger turns 70 this year and doesn’t want the hassle of huge numbers.
“I was saying to young Jeremy Markham down here this morning, you know you are getting old when you have to stand against the wall to put your gumboots on in the morning,” laughs Berger.
“I don’t want to be running around like I am 25 any more trying to train a big team but it is nice to have a horse like Cos I Can down here to have a crack at these races and I am sure he will come back even better after a spell.”
Quik Sharnie is clearly one Berger runner who is improving after she took time to win her maiden but now as a three-win horse will find herself on a potentially tricky rating.
“They can get up in the handicaps so fast now but she gets better with the racing and I will keep racing her so she keeps learning.”
Quik Sharnie was part of a double-double for the night as her driver Benjamin Butcher later reined Artful Living to win for Stratford trainer David Jones while Quik Sharnie’s sire Quaker Jet recorded his own double when Castana recorded a huge performance to win a later trot on Thursday.
The half-brother to Victorian Horse of the Year in Majestuoso, Castana still has plenty to learn for trainer Dave and Clare McGowan but has a big motor and could add a few more to his tally over the winter.
The other double on the night went to driver David Butcher who reined Denny (Arna Donnelly) and Brookies Jaffa (Jason and Megan Teaz) to smart wins. - Michael Guerin, HRNZ