Mitchell Conners: Strapper for Gold Trip
We speak to Mitchell Conners who enjoyed success strapping Gold Trip, winner of the 2022 Group 1 Lexus Melbourne Cup.
From cleaning out stables and yards to feeding, grooming, saddling and riding, strappers are an integral part of a successful racing team and build very special connections with the horses they care for. We speak to Mitchell Conners who enjoyed success strapping Gold Trip, winner of the 2022 Group 1 Lexus Melbourne Cup.
Mitchell Conners strapped Gold Trip, winner of the 2022 Group 1 Lexus Melbourne Cup. The 22-year-old is a foreman at the Cranbourne stables of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, and is the fourth generation to be part of the racing industry.
Mitchell Conners grew up with racehorses in his backyard so it was inevitable that he’d end up in the racing industry. His father, Marc, is a Group 1-winning trainer and his grandfather, Clarry, won the Golden Slipper four times.
Throughout high school, Conners worked at the family stables and a career in racing was all he wanted. He worked for his dad and spent six months in the UK as a pupil assistant at Andrew Balding’s Park House Stables. When COVID-19 changed the world, Conners re-joined his dad’s stables until he heard Ciaron Maher was looking for a reliable foreman. A week later, in early 2022, Conners moved to Victoria and met Lexus MelbourneCup winner Gold Trip on his first day.
“David Eustace showed me around and told me Gold Trip was a special horse. I haven’t really let anyone else touch him since that day! He’s a beautiful black stallion and he’s quite chilled, but gets grumpy if he’s touched too much. He loves a treat – if you have a lolly in your pocket, he’ll smell it and hassle you until he gets it,” said Conners.
Conners had strapped Gold Trip for every start in Victoria and was quietly confident about Cup Day.
“Gold Trip perked up when we got to the races and strutted around like he owned the place – he thinks everyone is there to see him,” said Conners.
“He was getting better and better that week and I felt he was switched on and ready to go. I watched the race from the mounting yard with the other strappers and when he got to the front early, I wondered if it was too soon. But he pulled up a treat and to see him win was unbelievable – I was out of breath but Gold Trip was loving life at that point.”
After taking care of the Cup winner, Conners immediately called his father, Marc.
“Dad told me that he was extremely proud and said I deserved the moment for all the hard work I’d done,” he said.
“The thought of one day being a trainer like my dad, grandfather and uncle wakes me up every morning. I want to do this for the rest of my life.”