If Thames detective Rachel Holmes was superstitious before her home-track meeting last Saturday, then those beliefs have now been thrown right out the window.
The 42-year-old mother-of-two won her first race at her fifth attempt when $2.20 favourite, Prime Silver nailed the $6,055 Coromandel More FM Maiden for the up to R49 pacers.
The 4-year-old P-Forty-Seven mare and Scott Phelan won by one-and-a-half lengths, pacing the 1700m stand in 2:12.8 (mile rate 2:05.7) and home in 62.1 and 32.3.
“Ironically it was her 13th start and when Club President Derek (Player) gave us stall 13, he said it's okay Rachel, most horses in that stall win.
“I thought oh no and then I thought the same again when she bobbled at the start, but Scotty did a fantastic job keeping her down.
“She’s not an easy horse to drive and he did a great job considering it was his first drive behind her after Arna Donnelly and Peter Young had driven her previously,” Holmes said.
In fact Holmes also paid a tribute to her good friends, Donnelly and Young.
“Arna had to drive her own horse in the race and that’s why I asked Scott. Arna has been wonderful with her knowledge and transporting the horse to Manawatu.
“As for Peter, well he did all the ground work with the horse. Peter gave me his colours which was an absolute honour. Those colours have so much history. It's neat to think I can continue contributing to that,” Holmes said.
Holmes, who is married to Brent, and has two sons Lewis (8) and Oliver (5) has been an a detective for almost 17 years.
The Thames-based couple also owned and bred Prime Silver out of their two-win 13-year-old Live Or Die - Joy's Girl mare Jupiter Franco. She is the only foal out of the mare. Jupiter Franco was trained by Thames conditioner, Paul Springall.
Holmes made her training debut on December 1 last year when Prime Silver and Donnelly were a creditable one-and-a-half length second behind start Artanne at Cambridge Raceway.
“I don’t think Scott will realise the effect he has played on my life now. For me to get that first win is so special. It means so much.
“I watched the race on-course on TV and was so overwhelmed and excited. It’s only really just starting to sink in. I had leave the course not long after though,” Holmes said.
“It was poor organisation on my part,” she added.
By that she meant she had to rush off to her mother’s (Alma Butland) 65th birthday that she had organised at the Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel – some 108km away.
Prime Silver is the only horse that Holmes has in work, but despite her busy policing schedule, she said she was always open to taking in more.
“I just love the game and my two boys are starting to come down to the stables now, and I’d like to get them into Kidz Kartz. It’s such a wonderful sport. The people are all so friendly and not afraid to give advice and lend a hand.
“There’s so many people I want to thank for my first win. I think they know who they are. I’m just so grateful to them all,” she said.
Holmes said she only came about training Prime Silver ‘by default’.
“I only took out my trainers’ licence when Peter (Young) retired. He was very good to me and the horse. It’s not easy juggling my work and being a parent as well. I’m also on the Parawai School Board of Trustees, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” a busy Holmes said.
Holmes was born in Auckland and got into harness racing when she studied at Otago University in Dunedin.
“My partner back then was Stewart Campbell and we worked horses out of Ocean Beach. I got my junior licence in 2002 and drove two winners and placed about eight times.
“I’ve been hooked on horses since my Dunedin days. One day I would like to do more with the horses and less policing. Who knows maybe even a racecourse inspector’s job one day?” Holmes said.
Meanwhile the feature event at Thames – the 2017 $9,000 Parawai Cup was won by the Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick trained Sir Richie.
The 5-year-old Christian Cullen gelding proved too strong for the Donnelly trained duo of Imajollywally (Donnelly) and Hudy Haxwell (Phelan).
Driven by Maurice McKendry Sir Richie paced the 2600m stand in 3:28.2 (mile rate 2:08.8) with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 64.3 and 33.6.
He won by a neck and five lengths and was the $8.40 fifth favourite. It was his sixth win in 31 starts and he has now banked just under $50,000.