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Mitchell Kerr Update

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The latest article here exposing Kerr's transgressions. There is no way he will get out of these even if the 'addiction made me do it' card is played.

The industry can't tolerate this kind of thing full stop.

High profile sports players allegedly cheated by star harness racing trainer Mitchell Kerr

Martin Van Beynen05:00, Feb 06 2021

A Black Cap, an All Black and several wealthy businessmen are among those allegedly cheated by a star harness racing trainer who is believed to have lost nearly $1 million through an Australian betting agency.

Mitchell Kerr's spectacular fall from grace surfaced publicly when he handed in his training and driver's licence to Harness Racing New Zealand in November, citing “mental health” as the reason for the break.

By then the now 29-year-old star had 87 wins to his credit and had won nearly $900,000 in stake money in a three-year solo training career.

He was also being investigated by the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) over a raft of allegations, including selling a non-existent horse, charging owners for insurance not taken out and over-selling shares in horses.


Kerr is now facing several charges of breaching harness racing rules, namely committing frauds connected with the industry.

The alleged dishonesties are thought to total hundreds of thousands of dollars. The date for a hearing before the racing industry’s Judicial Control Authority is yet to be set.

The scale of the alleged offending has become clearer as more details have emerged as part of a Stuff investigation.

Stuff can reveal that Kerr is alleged to have lost close to $1m since the beginning of 2019 by gambling through an Australian betting agency.

Some of his alleged frauds have affected household sporting names like Black Cap Matt Henry and All Black Anton Lienert-Brown.

Stuff's inquiries show Lienert-Brown was part of a syndicate, including Canterbury racing identities Wally Power, Keith Ovens, Gary Fyfe and Michael Walters, that bought about 60 per cent of gelding William Wallace last year from Queensland businessman Peter Varcoe.

Kerr organised the purchase, telling the buyers Varcoe wanted $100,000 for his share. It is alleged Kerr paid Varcoe only $30,000 making an easy $70,000 profit.

Ovens, a wool industry figure, is supporting Kerr and describes his gambling problem as a terrible disease.

Matt Henry, who was a close friend of Kerr since their school days at Christchurch’s St Bede’s College and included him in his wedding party last year, owned at least three horses with Kerr, including four-year-old gelding Matt Damon.

He has since found some of those horses were oversold, reducing the value of his share, and is still waiting for prize money the horses won.

Stuff has also learned more details about the sale of the non-existent horse.

In September 2019 Kerr allegedly organised for Varcoe and Varcoe’s friend John Beverley to buy an unraced three-year-old, sired by champion stallion Bettor's Delight for about $40,000.

The horse did not exist, and when Varcoe and Beverley, who were paying for the horse’s upkeep and training, insisted on proof, Kerr said it was a dud but quickly began looking for a similar horse.

He agreed to buy a horse called Franco Lebanon for $25,000 from Canterbury's Nevele R Stud, but the deal fell through when Kerr did not pay.

On top of the purchase price, the owners paid about $26,000 to Kerr for expenses for the non-existent horse.

Varcoe told Stuff he believed Kerr had sold several of his horses including Matt Damon, Smokin’ By and William Wallace for a lot more than he had declared. Kerr’s alleged frauds felt like a betrayal, he said.

“He was like family. He stayed with us in Brisbane, and he went to Kaikōura with us as a family unit. There’s a lot in this.”

Kerr’s gambling addiction was no excuse, he said.

“What happened to honesty and integrity to people who treated you like family?”

Kerr’s family, whom he had known for a long time, “asked me not to do anything”.

“But when my family became involved I thought f... you.”

Stuff can also reveal how Kerr allegedly oversold a number of horses under his control.

An example was the two-year-old colt California Dreaming, bought at the 2019 New Zealand Breeders Yearling Sales for $20,000.

The owner and Kerr allegedly did a 50/50 deal, an industry device where the owner and trainer have joint ownership. The owner does not pay training fees and other expenses and any stakes money the horse wins is split 50/50.

Kerr is said to have sold his 50 per cent share in California Dreaming to more than 10 other owners for about $90,000, virtually selling the horse twice over and diluting each of the shareholdings.

Matt Golding, one of the owners affected, said he remained friends with Kerr and, like others in Kerr’s circle, was “trying to help him through it”. Another friend told Stuff Kerr had demons he had to deal with but was “not a bad rooster”.

Another case of alleged overselling related to a three-year-old colt called The Major, bought by Kerr in 2019 for about $50,000. He was supposed to sell 100 shares at $1000 per share but allegedly sold up to 180 shares.

In another alleged fraud emerging from Stuff’s inquiries, Kerr cheated his friend and client Scott Carnochan when their breeding mare was serviced.

Kerr owned one third of four-year-old Bonavigo, and Carnochan, a dairy farmer from Leeston, owned two thirds.

Carnochan wanted Bonavigo to be serviced by the stallion Bettor's Delight at the Woodlands Stud and paid Kerr about $21,000 in advance for the service fee and expenses.

However, Carnochan later found out that Kerr had arranged a cheaper service with stallion Sweet Lou and had pocketed the full upfront fee for Bettor’s Delight.


It appears Kerr invoiced some owners for insurance premiums on policies he never took out. He allegedly charged the Travelling Reserves Syndicate nearly $10,000 for insuring the horse Manhattan but no insurance policy existed.

One owner told Stuff, Kerr had charged him for non-existent insurance regarding four horses.

Stuff can also reveal several clients have reported allegedly forged signatures on ownership transfer papers that Kerr arranged. Varcoe alleges he did not sign ownership change papers relating to William Wallace, although they carried his signature.

Kerr worked for his father, and for trainers Robert Dunn, at Woodend Beach, and Gareth Dixon in Auckland before he went out on his own in 2017 after securing 10 boxes and a barn at Rangiora Raceway and developed the outside yards and paddocks.

He is back working for his father, a licensed trainer, at Ohoka Park in Ohoka and also selling fruit and vegetables.

Kerr did not respond to messages from Stuff seeking comment.

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Really sad state of affairs. Living a lie like that for so long , just kept digging the hole bigger and bigger for himself. While I don't condone the behaviour I also hate Social Media witch hunts. I hope the guy gets some help and makes reparation somehow in the future, because its about mending broken people in the end. 

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19 minutes ago, Globederby19 said:

Really sad state of affairs. Living a lie like that for so long , just kept digging the hole bigger and bigger for himself. While I don't condone the behaviour I also hate Social Media witch hunts. I hope the guy gets some help and makes reparation somehow in the future, because its about mending broken people in the end. 

Does he ever get a licence again?

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Agree Mardy, he was my pick to be a superstar Canterbury trainer in time. He certainly could get them going well and had a very good eye for selecting yearlings even tho he was just starting out

Tragic in many ways. The Kerr family are lovely folk and I wish them every success in overcoming this. It is just very sad for all


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