Bargain buy puts young trainer’s name up in lights

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  • May 15, 2023
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At just 21 years of age, Kurtis Pertab is surrounded by many far more qualified and experienced racing industry people.

However, any misgivings he might have harboured after spending $500 of his hard-earned on the online auction were well and truly erased when his 10-start maiden purchase, Poser, won Saturday’s Listed Campbell Infrastructure Rotorua Cup (2200m).

As the winner of four of her six starts and more than $85,000 since changing hands, the Ocean Park mare has been a key flag-bearer for the young Matamata horseman, who combines breaking, pre-training, pinhooking and trading with a small racing string under the Pertab Racing banner.

“I knew Poser from when I was involved in breaking her in and taking her through to the trials for her breeder Mary Chittick,” Pertab said.

“Things didn’t work out for her after that, but when I saw her up on Gavelhouse this time last year, I thought she was worth a punt and bought her for what wasn’t much at all.

“I had always thought something of her, but then I had people telling me I was wasting my money – and being young you do wonder when others with a whole lot more knowledge tell you that.

“But I figured it was a big leap of faith, which meant sticking to my guns and putting a plan in place.”

The first step was to take Poser back to square one with a long spell and work from that base point.

After two late spring trials, the five-year-old made a winning debut for Pertab over 1600m at Tauranga in November and completed a hat-trick with Rating 65 and 75 middle-distance wins at Rotorua and Te Rapa.

“I knew she liked soft ground, so I decided to put her away over summer and make a plan with the aim to try and get some black-type with her,” Pertab said.

A fresh-up third placing over 1600m six weeks ago was followed by a forgivable seventh on a Good 4 track in the Gr. 3 Manawatu Breeders’ Stakes (2000m) in mid-April, and Pertab went into the Rotorua Cup confident Poser was up to the challenge.

“The ground was too firm for her at Awapuni but she had to run in it if I wanted her to be ready for Rotorua.

“That was the race I had targeted, and it had been a goal to train a stakes winner before I turned 22, so it’s great to get that ticked off.

“I was thrilled for Tegan (Newman, jockey) too, she’s been a big part of her development and put her in exactly the right spot.

“I was confident I had the mare bang-on and she got a perfect trip, which I guess you have to in these races.

“It’s great for everyone involved in the business – my partner Ava, my younger brothers Leroy and Lennox, along with Mum as well – they all chip in to make it work.

“I’ve had a heap of messages saying well done, including one from Garry and Mary (Chittick), which was really nice.”

Pertab saddled up his first runner in 2021 and went winless through his first two seasons, however that has changed significantly with a current season tally of seven wins from 21 starters.

To cap a good weekend, Pertab sent out the winner of the final race at Matamata on Sunday with Diomedes scoring a deserved maiden victory after three placings from his first six starts.

As the holder of a Class B trainer’s licence, his racing team numbers just a handful and he has no immediate plans to expand significantly in that direction.

“There might be the odd owner out there looking at me, but that will come in time. I haven’t forgotten where this all started and what makes the real money – breaking in, pretraining and trading.

“We did well at the Ready to Run Sale last year, selling all six in the draft with some good results for ourselves and clients.

“This year we’ll have a bigger draft – 10 or 12 by better stallions and more quality, so we’re looking forward to that.

“As for the rest of it, we’ll just keep doing what we do. I haven’t looked at what might be next for Poser but for now it’s mission accomplished with a stakes win on her record.”

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