CLIFFIE Miller will probably object to being called a “veteran” trainer, but the ace Kimberley horseman has occupied 50 stables and more at Flamingo Park for the best part of 40 years and he is synonymous with racing in the region.
Miller and jockey Marco van Rensburg combined to win Saturday’s Racing Association Flamingo Mile for the second time with seven-year-old Dodgy Itie (9-1), who raced away to a 2.5-length win over Ahead Of Traffic and the favourite, Notacademical.
Miller and his long-time partner Heather Reddie have done a remarkable job with Dodgy Itie, who came close to being put down as a four-year-old.
Miller told: “Dodgy Itie cracked a hind leg, it was a serious injury and his original owner didn’t want to persist with him so we considered euthanising the horse, but Heather would have nothing of that. She refused to give up and took the horse over. She fixed him, he recovered after months of care and he’s been sound ever since.
Miller said that he’d aimed Dodgy Itie at this race right after the gelding had won it last year. “His rating went up to 95 and I didn’t want it to go higher so we kept him ticking over and only gave him one prep last month. He ran through the field nicely, only tiring late and showed he’d be near his best again for the double.”
Now, Miller said, preparation will begin for a third tilt at the race next year and this means rest and light work building up to next August. Dodgy Itie races in Miller’s own silks, there is no pressure to run him more often and his record of seven wins and 14 places from 28 starts is excellent.
Miller, who has won seven Flamingo Park trainers’ titles and finished last season with a respectable 47 winners and a good 12.3% strike rate, said that his stable remained a favoured home for horses that don’t make the grade elsewhere and that steady support from other centres continued.
“In these times things are not what they used to be, but we can’t complain, we’ve done well. Yesterday I had a query from young black guy who wants to be an owner, we need more young people to come on board.”
Dodgy Itie was raised at David Hepburn-Brown’s Hemel N Aarde Stud. He’s a son of Latino Magic and Supa Dodge, by Super Magic.
Headline photo by JC Photos: Dodgy Itie (Marco van Rensburg) with his elated groom Danny (white shirt), and Heather Reddie (right).