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Young horseman Trent Lethaby building into training carer

Trent Lethaby is optimistic a run of successful Group races through the 2021 TAB Queensland Summer Harness Season can propel his emerging training career.

The 24-year-old Kiwi’s driving commitments have taken a step back in recent time, focusing his energy into training, as his partner Taleah McMullen takes on the steering responsibilities for the young stable.

Moving to Australia to chase his ambitions in the harness racing industry, Lethaby has worked for big stables like Grant Dixon and Darrel Graham, before recently settling in with the McMullens.

Lethaby admits it can be “pretty tough” starting out on his own training journey as a youngster in the industry but trotter Red Castleton is giving his dreams a push along.

The chestnut gelding claimed Group 3 glory last Saturday evening on the first night of the carnival and the team goes searching for Group 2 success this week in the Trotters Sprint over 1660 metres.

With three horses in work at the moment, the up-and-coming horseman is eager to add to his stable into the future.

“It is pretty tough to get a go but John and Jeanette McMullen have been really good as I am with Taleah,” Lethaby said.

“It would be good to be able to pick up a few more horses in time.

“I have just got a new filly from New Zealand that Taleah and I purchased, who looks like she might be alright so hopefully she will do a good job.

“I would prefer training to driving to be honest.”

Lethaby only claimed his first ever winner as a trainer just over 12 months ago when $3 equal favourite Balator Thor got the cash at Marburg.

He has 12 victories to his name so far – with two at Group 3 level.

To grab his ninth career victory from 80 starts, Lethaby thought Red Castleton was aided by a great job from returning driver McMullen, who recently spent a lengthy period on the sidelines with injury.

“It was pretty exciting,” Lethaby said of the Group 3 victory at Albion Park.

“We were disappointed last start, when he had to sit outside the leader and he over-raced a little bit.

“We thought we would drive him quiet this week and hope for a bit of luck and he surprised us a little bit.

“We knew he could put in a run like that.

“We got him from New Zealand and he was only cheap and he has been a pretty good buy for us.”

McMullen recently credited Lethaby with helping her recover from her collapsed lung, as well as a bruised kidney and spleen, after being kicked by a pacer at their stable earlier this year. 

To make it two on the trot, Red Castleton has drawn three for the $30,000 feature this Saturday evening. 

Ideally, the young trainer would like to see the NZ-bred gelding have one final run at them after there being good speed early on, which McMullen was able to do last start with great affect.

“He has a bit of gate speed so if he could find the fence early, I think he should go a bit of a good race again,” Lethaby said.

“He is a perfect little race horse really, when he is driven quietly, he is never far away.”

Before feature racing on Saturday night at Albion Park, Taleah McMullen has a strong book of drives on Thursday afternoon at the track.

“It was pretty exciting,” Lethaby said of the Group 3 victory at Albion Park.

“We were pretty confident two starts before that when he started favourite and galloped behind the gate – we thought he would be hard to beat on that night.

“We were disappointed last start, when he had to sit outside the leader and he over-raced a little bit.

“We thought we would drive him quiet this week and hope for a bit of luck and he surprised us a little bit.

“We knew he could put in a run like that.

“We got him from New Zealand and he was only cheap and he has been a pretty good buy for us.”

McMullen recently credited Lethaby with helping her recover from her collapsed lung, as well as a bruised kidney and spleen, after being kicked by a pacer at their stable earlier this year. 

To make it two on the trot, Red Castleton has drawn three for the $30,000 feature this Saturday evening. 

Ideally, the young trainer would like to see the NZ-bred gelding have one final run at them after there being good speed early on, which McMullen was able to do last start with great affect.

“He has a bit of gate speed so if he could find the fence early, I think he should go a bit of a good race again,” Lethaby said.

“He is a perfect little race horse really, when he is driven quietly, he is never far away.”

Before feature racing on Saturday night at Albion Park, Taleah McMullen has a strong book of drives on Thursday afternoon at the track.

By Jordan Gerrans