Cambridge horsewoman Tarissa Mitchell will launch another chapter in her life at Riccarton today with a horse who seriously injured her 11 months ago.
Mitchell, a promising trainer and former jockey, made the permanent move from Cambridge to Riccarton this week and her first runner from her racecourse boxes will be Taree in the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m).
It was on October 9 last year that Mitchell was rushed to hospital for eye surgery after being kicked by Taree, who was then an untried two-year-old.
"I was just putting the horses out from the boxes because it had stopped raining," Mitchell said at the time.
"I had walked her over for a bit of a pick. She just got a fright at something and lashed out at me. She kicked me in the head and got the inside of my eye."
After losing the battle to save the sight in her injured eye, a prosthetic eye has replaced the original one and Mitchell has carried on in life doing what she does well, training racehorses.
As for Taree, she went a little way to saying she was sorry for the serious accident when scoring a debut win over 1150m at Te Awamutu a couple of weeks ago.
It was that hard-fought win on a heavy 11 surface after just one unplaced juvenile trial six months earlier that has earned Taree a crack at the New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle Stakes.
"It's a big step up for her and there's a question mark over her on a good track, but she's very well," Mitchell said. "She's tough and it's a good chance to find out how good she is.
"She's not nominated for the 1000 Guineas but there's always a late nomination if she proves she deserves to run in it."
Mitchell holds no grudge against Taree for the accident. In fact, the filly she races with Jim and Libby Telfer has also had to endure serious setbacks.
"She's had to overcome a fair bit," Mitchell said. "She got hurt in a fence then one day she got badly injured in the float by another horse kicking out when she was to run at the Te Teko trials. She's tough the way she bounces back."
The daughter of Pins is responsible for the most recent of the 17 wins Mitchell has on the board since taking out her trainer's licence three years ago and today she will get her opportunity to credit the stable with its first stakes win.
Taree was one of the nine horses Mitchell took south to her new quarters at the Riccarton racecourse and it wasn't a smooth trip for all of the team.
"I took four down on my own float and the other five went with Majestic [Horse Floats], but unfortunately their truck blew up near Taumarunui and they had a three-hour delay," Mitchell said.
"But they all got here safely and have settled in well.
"I'll be running three or four of them on October 6 and, all going well, five of them will race over the [New Zealand Cup] carnival."
Mitchell is looking forward to her new life in Christchurch with partner Carl Sheehan, who represented New Zealand as a rower in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
"Carl helped get everything organised for me down here and he's able to help out with the horses," Mitchell said. "He did the pony club scene before rowing took over for him.
"It's a big move for me, but I've got some nice horses and it's exciting."
- NZ Racing Desk