Kelly bounces back into the winner's circle after health battle

Former Victorian group-winning trainer Adam Kelly didn’t take long to get back into the Melton winner’s circle after a long stint on the harness racing sidelines with serious illness.

Adam Kelly (right).
Adam Kelly (right).

Hes A Meister is the first horse Kelly has trained since being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, in 2022.

And while Kelly believes the horse has the makings of a handy performer, he's adamant his involvement as a trainer will be limited to only one horse.

"Everything is heading in the right direction at the moment," Kelly said.

"If I can stay where I am health wise, everything is perfect. I am working one horse, I have the perfect place to work it, at Kate and Andy Gath's, and the horse looks like it's going to do a job, so I'm in a good spot," he said.

Kelly took over the training of the five times winner last month, when the pacer arrived from across the Tasman.

"I've been buying and selling horses over the past 12 months, just to keep busy and keep my finger on the pulse in the industry really, and when this one came up, I thought I might like to give him a go," Kelly said.

"I trained both his mother (Lite Jagermeister) and his brother (Major Meister) and when he came up for sale it got me thinking that maybe I could train one again.

"I've had a filly with Kate and Andy Gath (Our Sadie Kay) and they've done a great job with her.  I've been going out to their place and helping out where I can, starting out a couple of mornings a week, then it turned into three or four times a week just washing horses and doing stable work.

"I asked them if they would have room for me to play around with one, and they were happy for me to do that. Kate and Andy have been terrific since I got crook, and I just can't thank them enough.

"So when he arrived three weeks ago, Hes A Meister was the first horse I had sat behind in 15 months."

Kelly said there was no cure for his condition, but he was now in what most people would call remission.

"They (the medical experts) get you to a point they call 'maintenance' which means the cancer is not detectable, but I am on a course of medication, three weeks on, one week off and a drip once a month.  It's a case of keeping it at bay for as long as we can," he said.

"When they tell you you've got cancer your reaction is that you think you are going to die.  But the more you look into what I have got, it is definitely manageable, it's just a matter of having a routine and the main thing I have to manage is the fatigue.

"If you had said to me 12 or 15 months ago that I would be where I am now, I would take it any day of the week."

Kelly said Saturday night's win by Hes A Meister, and part of a driving double on the night for concession reinsman Jordan Leedham, was special for everyone involved.

"The owners Ian Barker and Kathy Chambers are great friends and longtime owners of mine from WA. It ended up a bit of a fluke that they were coming over to see family and came out to Melton to see their horse win," he said.

"It was a pretty good night.  But training big teams again?  I would have loved to do it again but probably not.  I don't want to do more than one, but the love of the horse is still there."