Harness racing has attracted another high profile sportsman but for now Marshall Suckling has more pressing matters to tend to.
The 27-year-old Cantabrian, who recently played an integral role in the Canterbury Ranfurly Shield winning team this year said he wants to win the Mitre 10 Premiership Final tomorrow (Saturday) as his Canterbury team takes on Tasman in Christchurch at 7.35pm.
The Cantabs are $1.28 favourites.
Twenty-eight hours out from the grand final, and straight after the ‘Captain’s Run’, Suckling said he was devastated that he was injured for tomorrow’s big game.
“I am Canterbury born-and-bred and I’m absolutely disappointed I broke my thumb in the Shield challenge against Waikato, so I’ve been out for the last couple of weeks. Though, winning that match was one of my career highlights, not only for the shield but combined on a personal note, receiving my blazer for Canterbury!
“I’m still excited though. The boys preparation both individually and as a team, has been ideal. I have no doubt the 23 will do the job tomorrow night. We have won the last eight of nine and we’re pretty hard to beat when we play at home,” Suckling, the outside back, said.
Harness racing grandstands should also be graced with Suckling’s presence in the future – hopefully the one next to the Addington Showgrounds more-so.
Suckling said when he was a kid he watched his grandfather Garry breed and raise Thoroughbreds and his mother Tracy do the same with equestrian and showjumping horses. Evidently Tracy was the first female jockey to qualify a hurdler in 1974-75.
“We had a stable at the back of Sumner but when my grandfather died the interest waned a bit, however I’ve always loved harness racing.
I had been thinking about how I could become involved and had looked at breeding as something I would potentially be keen on also.
“Anyway I took it upon myself to study pedigrees and see who was out there to breed from. When I saw that there was a Real Desire mare for lease on The Breeders website it spurred my interest, because I had been told the Real Desire broodmares had some nice blood” Suckling said.
That Real Desire – Spirit Of Zeus mare was the one-win Robert Dunn trained bay, Feel Real. She had nine races and retired with a fourth at Rangiora on July 26.
“I really studied the bloodlines hard and liked the Real Desire line. She is also from the Tabella Beth (grand-dam) line that Lazarus, Light and Sound & Stars and Stripes hail from among other stars.”
“I leased Feel Real off Glen Scott & the Radfords and then recently put her to the Bettor’s Delight booking I secured earlier in the year when I thought I would give this a go. Her foal will be due in late September 2017 with a bit of luck. I told my mother (Tracey) about it and she backed me simply because I had done my homework,” Suckling said.
He said he would potentially sell a colt if it was a sales type to get a bit more in the kitty and get a mare of his own. Racing a filly and then retaining her as a broodmare is the other option.
“People who know me know that if I ever venture into something I want to go into it knowing I have prepared well and am giving myself the best chance of achieving a goal. Hopefully I am onto a nice breed here, because like every other harness racing breeder out there, I want to breed a Group One champion one day. I’m real serious about that,” Suckling said.
Suckling grew up in Redcliffs and attended Christchurch Boys' High School, where he played for that school’s prestigious First XV for two years.
He was then selected for the New Zealand Schools team in his final year which competed at the World Schools Championships in Japan.
Suckling then moved to Australia in 2008 to play for the Gold Coast, but returned to New Zealand to study management and marketing at Otago University in 2009.
He now has a degree in commerce. He played 15 games for Otago making his provincial debut for them in 2012. He has also played 12 games for Canterbury.
“Luke Whitelock and his family love the trots and so does our manager Terry Williamson who owns the nice pacer, Seel The Deal who has won eight races Terry tells me.”
The American ideal gelding is now on the verge of a New Zealand cup start after a slashing second in the Methven Cup behind Smolda.
“So there’s a few of the lads in the Canterbury makeup who like the trots. I’ll certainly be doing my bit to tell them how great the sport is,” Suckling said.
“But for now I have one major mission to achieve with the ‘Red and Blacks’ tomorrow. Hopefully that winning feeling will just keep on carrying on,” he added.