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Picture : Perfect Outlook, who is by Master Of My Fate out of the Mike Miller-trained Gr 1 Garden Province winner Outcome, is one of five winners the Miller yard have had so far this season (Candiese Lenferna Photography). 

The Mike Miller yard finished seventh in the KZN Trainers Championship last season with 35 wins and lead the championship at this early stage together with Frank Robinson, both yards having sent out five winnners.

Sterling Miller was asked whether they could have a tilt at winning the KZN Trainers Championship and replied, “We’ve never really thought about the championship, it’s not something that has crossed our mind. We set a goal at the beginning of each season and have achieved it for the last two seasons and we’ve set a higher goal this season and have hit the ground running. Our goal this season is 45 wins. We are traders, so if Mauritius comes back to normal … they haven’t been trading like they normally do … but if they come well this season, you never know things can change overnight. But at the moment we are focusing on getting as close as possible to our goal. Forty-five wins would be the highest the yard has ever achieved. I’ve set the goal quite high, but we’ve got a good team in place and we’ve been working with Dr Roehann Sutherland. He’s a fabulous vet, it has been life changing. We’ve got a good stable jockey (Tristan Godden) and the team we have behind us at the moment seems to be getting along well and are doing an exceptional job together.”
Two of their five winners this season have been three-year-olds having just their second career runs and another one was a three-year-old having his third run, while there was also a four-year-old having his second run.
Sterling said, “We’ve saved a few horses because we’ve always had this stigma attached to our yard that we can only train two-year-olds. So we’ve left a few horses to mature a little bit and we’ve done the same with our current crop of two-year-olds. We obviously have a large crop ready for December and January, but we have left quite a few to mature and come out later in the season.”
The yard have over 40 two-year-olds, including a R550,000 Danon Platina, and Sterling is “really, really happy with what we’ve got.”
The yard’s stalwart campaigner last season Strawberry Bear (Flying The Flag) is enjoying a holiday on the farm.
Sterling said, “He’s been on holiday for a month and he might stay for another two more months. There nothing for him in the program so that’s maybe a sign for him to have an even longer holiday. He had a helluva season, four wins including a Gr 3 and a helluva lot of racing. The holiday is just for him to freshen up. He is having the break he deserves, there is nothing wrong, he is a very, very sound horse.”
The two-year-olds who had tough campaigns are also having two month holidays.
Another potential stalwart is Winter Games (What A Winter), who finished second in The Sharks Listed Gatecrasher Stakes and a 2,20 length fifth to Sandringham Summit in the Gr 2 Durban Golden Horseshoe.
Sterling said, “He was a bit disappointing on July day, but he did need to be gelded and we did geld him. I think he is a horse to follow. We did have a few offers for him. They were large offers but we turned them down on the advice of my Dad saying he is a smart horse. He seems to be a different horse after the gelding and is looking for 1400m to a mile and possibly further. He is an exciting prospect.”
He is well aware that it can get more difficult for decent two-year-olds who raced against their own age, especially considering they are usually given high merit ratings.
He continued, “There are no shining stars besides those two, but we have a lot of decent horses at the moment.”
The ones who have won so far this season will give an inkling of good they are when they make their handicap debuts.
The yard do have the expensive R1.2 million Gimmethegreenlight filly Status Quo to look forward to. The Shadwell SA-bred filly is out of Gr 3 Fillies Mile winner Ghaalla (Var) and is from the family Of Master Of My Fate, Malmoos, Covenant and Erik The Red.
Sterling said, “She is showing a lot of promise and comes out soon, so let’s hope she can reproduce it on the race track.”
Rulership (William Longsword) has ability, but has niggles and a breathing issue, but on his day he can mix it with the best of them.
Altogether the yard have 91 horses and Sterling concluded, “If we finish in the first three in the KZN Championships it would be an unbelievable achievement for the yard.”