Nick Mitchell’s lifelong journey to train racehorses in provincial NSW has taken him to three continents and Sydney’s big stage where his sights remain.
After Radical Impact finished 13th in the Provincial Championship Final in 2015, Dream Lane brought the trainer back to the race at Randwick in April where she was fifth less than two lengths behind winner Danish Twist.
Dream Lane is set to run in Saturday’s benchmark handicap over 1200m at Rosehill, which could be her last start before she aims at qualifying for next year’s $400,000 final.
Mitchell grew up in the heart of English racing at Newmarket where his father Pat trained horses.
As a 25-year-old he went to work in Japan with the intention of staying one year and worked in racing there for more than 11.
“I went back to England and didn’t like it then came over here,” Mitchell said.
“I was foreman for Tim Martin at Rosehill for four years while I was waiting for my visa to come through so I could start training myself.”
After going it alone three years ago, Mitchell has gradually built his team.
He now has 15 horses in work at Hawkesbury, another 10 in spelling paddocks and will look to up his numbers to the mid-20s in the coming years.
“When I started I only had two horses so we’re going all right,” he said.
Injury stunted Dream Lane’s juvenile career before Cobbitty Lodge approached Mitchell to see if he was interested in training her.
“I got her as an unraced rising four-year-old,” Mitchell said.
“I thought ‘she’s bred by Emirates (Park) so she must go all right’.
“It was just being in the right place at the right time.”
Mitchell is convinced Dream Lane has improved since finishing fourth in the Listed Ladies’ Day Cup on her home track on November 3.
“She’s pulled up from her race here really well and she’s probably hitting peak fitness now,” Mitchell said.
“I think Rosehill will suit her with the big, long straight.”
Dream Lane has won two races from 17 starts and broke through the $100,000 prize money barrier in the Ladies’ Day Cup.
Mitchell he has no regrets about targeting the Provincial Championships, despite acknowledging the impact it may have had on her winning record.
“It was a great ride for all the owners having one in the Championships,” he said.