Day At The Track

Neilson leaving All Stars Stables

08:55 AM 19 Mar 2019 NZDT
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Michelle Neilson,Harness racing
All Stars photo

A lengthy association with All Stars came to an end, at least in the foreseeable future, for stable manager, Michelle Neilson last week on her return to Australia after seven years at Rolleston.

Michelle came over from Australia where she had had considerable experience as a junior driver and through family connections with racing in 2012 around the same time Natalie made her base permanently at Rolleston.

“I poached her actually” Natalie confesses. “She was very good, had a lot of potential and I knew she would fit in well over here. She did”

Initially a stablehand and junior driver, Michelle drove six winners in her first full season in New Zealand and was keen for more driving opportunities which was not easy with Mark Natalie and Blair available for the team. In her final Junior year she handled 20 winners. For a brief period she left All Stars in search of greater driving opportunities. She was back for her first open driver season in which she handled three of her five winners for All Stars, Serengeti, Riccardo and Golden Goddess, the latter when she ended Dream About Me’s 12 successive win tally.

In the past two seasons as stable manager she has had fewer opportunities but won three of only 14 drives in the 2018 season including one with Princess Tiffany (admittedly a Breeders Crown heat which was a walkover) and two raceday successes with Kayla Marie compiling a 10 per cent winning strike rate overall with 35 wins. There would have been plenty more but for her executive position at All Stars which encompassed nominations here and in Australia, flight and veterinary planning and a number of other responsibilities not directly connected to the training of the horses.

It was a big challenge for someone who until then had followed instructions rather than giving them and acting as a team leader-acquired skills sometimes underrated by outside observers.

Especially on the major days when All Stars had huge numbers involved the planning was intense .

The work involved a 7 day mindset and in the regular absences of Mark and Natalie overseas heavy responsibility which can take a toll eventually,

Some time ago when indicating she would return to Australia, Michelle referred to family pressures and the desire for a change of direction.

“I have been here seven years and away from my family for most of that time and that is a factor in my thinking. I didn’t expect originally that I would be away this long.

“I guess too there is a time for thinking about a new direction in life having followed this one for so long. Just a freshen up really. I have made no decisions about that but will have a chance to think and reflect on it when I get home”

Michelle leaves with the best wishes of Mark and Natalie and All Stars staff, the longest serving of several Australians the stable has “imported” over several years.

 

Courtesy of All Stars Stables

http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

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