Abbey Holdaway says she owes her first training victory to her boss and partner, Todd Mitchell.
The 26-year-old Waikato horseman had her green, white, and black colours in the winner’s circle for the first time when Celeris won the Cambridge Primary Mobile Trot at Cambridge Raceway on Tuesday.
“It was a huge thrill," she said.
"Actually I was excited just getting my trainer’s licence, but now after six starts this happens....I’m still buzzing.”
After stints with Geoff Small and Dale Cameron, Holdaway was actually looking for employment in the administration sector when Mitchell offered her part-time work.
“I used to manage the Royal Oak Tab for a couple of years but always loved working with horses.
"I didn’t think I could earn an income in the harness racing industry again until Todd offered me work."
And then when Gene Robb left Mitchell’s early this year, Holdaway was offered full-time employment working alongside the four-time New Zealand Cup winning reinsman.
She helps Mitchell work his team of about 13 in Tauwhare, as well as her only horse in training – Celeris.
“I paid $2,000 for him off Adrienne Matthews in March last year.
"Chris Gillies then trained him for me before I got my licence.
"I had my first start with him in March. His previous best finish for me was sixth,” Holdaway said.
Celeris drew 10 of 10 at Cambridge on Tuesday and was characteristically slow away.
Mitchell had the Pegasus Spur gelding in sixth place (three-back on the outer) at the bell and then took lead at the 400m.
They hung on to win by three quarters of a length, trotting the 2200m mobile in 2:48.8 (mile rate: 2:03.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 61.5 and 30.5.
He was rank outsider and paid a whopping $83.40 to win.
“He’s such a slow starter especially from stands, and I thought he might have gone a bit better from the mobile - and he did.
"He was slow away again but it was a nice confident drive by Todd.
“I won’t forget this win in a very long time,” Holdaway said.
Holdaway was born in Auckland and educated at Pukekohe High School.
“I wasn’t born into a harness racing family but soon learnt all about it when I was working for Geoff and then Dale.
“Todd has also taught me heaps and I'm grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to train.
"I am really enjoying it, I have no desire to drive – I’ll leave that to the professionals.
“I would like to sell Celeris now and then perhaps lease another one.
“I’m totally hooked,” she said.
Holdaway shares in the ownership of Celeris with Neill and Aaron Bowrey.
The 6-year-old was bred by Matthews, Johnnie Butcher and Philippa. Butcher.
He is the 12th of 13 foals out of Game Pride mare, Game Robinson.
Trained and driven by the late Max Robinson, Game Robinson won five races between 1989 and 1992.
Her last foal – The Fat Controller (by Britewell) – was her most successful in New Zealand, winning 11 races and just over $150,000.
By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)