Cambridge horseman Luke Whittaker experienced the biggest night in his burgeoning career at his local track on Thursday.
Not only did he record his first win as a trainer with Chalberg, but later in the night he reined home Pull The Other Leg for employer Mike Berger to record his first driving double.
“It was a really good night,” Whittaker said. “To get that first training win is something I have always wanted to achieve, especially in Ricki Herbert’s Dad’s colours.”
Previously trained by Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins, Chalberg joined Whittaker’s barn late last month and he was delighted to get a winning result with the gelding first-up in his care.
“Chalberg has only been with me for two weeks. Frank and Tate have done most of the work with him, so I can’t really claim the whole win,” Whittaker said.
“He had been going really well before he went to Auckland, and he went terrible, and his blood showed that he had a virus.
“We treated him and went from there. He got a good trip tonight, they rolled along a bit and he had that last little bit to roll over the top of them.”
Whittaker said reining home his first training victory was great, but winning behind Pull The Other Leg for mentor Mike Berger made his night even more memorable.
“Pull The Other Leg is a really nice horse,” Whittaker said. “He has taken a bit of time and he is really showing his ability now. We think he can go places.
“He has still got a lot to learn, but he has got a bit of ability that horse.”
Whittaker was full of praise for Berger, and his wife Brenda, after the win and said he has learnt a lot from the veteran horseman.
“Mike and Brenda have been really good to me,” Whittaker said. “When I first came here they always offered me a horse to have in work to train alongside the other horses.
“They are more like family to me and I love working for them.
“Mike has been in the game for a long time and learning from someone with as much experience as he has is great.
“I have learnt a lot off Mike and I am still learning every day. It’s a pleasure to work for him.”
Thursday night will live long in the memory of Whittaker and he said he will savour the winning high.
“You have good and bad days in racing, and Thursday was definitely a good day,” he said. - Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk