Top efforts by Mitchell and Irish Call

Tarissa Mitchell has plenty to smile about with Irish Call.

Tarissa Mitchell has plenty to smile about with Irish Call.

Tarissa Mitchell downplayed her fine training achievement when producing Irish Call to maintain his unbeaten record on the Riccarton course yesterday.

Irish Call, a five-year-old Civics gelding Mitchell races in partnership with her mother, Robyne Macdonald, took his record to five wins from 11 starts and extended his unbeaten sequence at Riccarton to four when proving too good in the Vernon & Vazey Truck Parts Premier.

“I’m only learning,” said Mitchell understating her ability as a trainer. “This is all new to me. It’s exciting.”

Mitchell is definitely underselling her ability with horses and the first to agree is Lee Somervell, her former employer at Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge.

“She’s a very good horsewoman and I’m so thrilled to see her doing so well,” said Somervell. “She’s done a great job with Irish Call and also with Call Me Royal. They’re both by Civics so it’s great for him, too.”

Somervell stands Civics at Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge, the stud at which Irish Call and Call Me Royal were bred by the late Ada Parnwell and the estate of her late husband, Bert.

Before turning her hand to training, Mitchell had enjoyed success during the 1990s, riding 83 winners when apprenticed to her father, the late Bruce Macdonald.

Irish Call’s winning streak at Riccarton began last May when successful in a Rating 65 1600 metres in the hands of Lisa Allpress, while at that same meeting Mitchell prepared Call Me Royal to win over 2000 metres then finish a nose second in the Great Autumn Handicap (2500m).

Mitchell returned south with Irish Call last month and produced him to win fresh-up over 1200 metres at Riccarton, beating Margarita Mover, who has since been unbeaten in two starts, both over New Zealand Cup week. Margarita Mover won on the first day and again yesterday.

Mitchell gave Irish Call a couple of weeks to get over his fresh-up win and struck again on the first day of the NZ Cup carnival, winning over 1400 metres, again in Rating 75 company. And again that form has stacked up well as the runner-up behind Irish Call was Flying Ibis, who followed up with a late-finishing win yesterday.

Irish Call faced a new test yesterday, both in class and distance, stepping up to 1800 metres for the first time and tackling Rating 85 company.

Mitchell was apprehensive over his winning prospects, but she need not have been nervous as Irish Call handled the new task in good style, winning by a head from Sanasar after being given a nice run tracking the leader by Samantha Wynne.

Wynne has been aboard Irish Call in each of his last four starts and was full of praise for the horse and trainer. “He’s a pleasure to ride, so strong, and Tarissa has done a great job with him,” she said.

Irish Call and Call Me Royal have been responsible for all of Mitchell’s 10 training successes and it was the latter (also raced by Mitchell and her mother) who credited her with her first win, at Tauranga last September. Call Me Royal has won five of his 16 starts and been placed on eight occasions.

Mitchell has an enviable strike rate as those 10 wins have come from just 31 starts which have gathered more than $170,000.

Mitchell was granted her trainer’s license last year and in her first full season of training she notched seven wins and 11 placings from 24 starters and her tally this season is three wins and a second from five starts.

She took Wagner, the other member of her team, south with Irish Call and in his first start from her stable he finished second at Motukarara before giving some cheek from his wide draw when winding up midfield at Riccarton last Wednesday.

Mitchell packed up after yesterday’s win with Irish Call and will now have to work out the next step with the very promising galloper.

“I wish there were races for him here every week,” she said after the race. “He loves the place, and so do I.

“I’m not sure what to do with him now. I’ll get him home and have to work out something.”

Irish Call has won from 1200 to 1800 metres and the manner in which he handled the latter distance suggests he could develop into a good stayer.

“He looks like he’ll go over ground, but while he’s going so well over the shorter trips I’ll try and keep him to 1600 for now,” said Mitchell.