By Garrick Knight
Ellie Rowden was still on cloud nine by Sunday morning, the day after training her first winner, Still Eyre, at Cambridge.
“A real buzz, it was just amazing,” she told HRNZ.
“I watched the race with Jo Stevens and she said she looked back and I had disappeared.
“I think I jumped off the ledge of the grandstand,” Rowden joked.
“I just erupted when I knew he had won.”
Rowden, who has a background and ongoing involvement in the show ring, is in her first official season as a trainer, based in Patumahoe.
She used to help out Gary Noakes when he trained two previous horses she owned, Mr Natural and Cool Son, to win.
“I was lucky enough to own a few winners before, but to own and train one by myself? That felt pretty cool.”
Rowden leased Still Eyre off Wai Eyre Farm’s Mike Brown back in the early winter time after a chance discussing with Dave McGowan.
“Dave said they had a trotter for less down at Wai Eyre, so I sent them a message to enquire.
“He’d been out of work for nearly a year and was just sitting in a paddock after a good spell.
“It was great to get him in that condition, because I got bring him up from scratch and get to know him a little bit.”
After trying her luck at Auckland for a number of runs, Rowden switched her attention to Cambridge after some advice from neighbour, Todd MacFarlane.
“I’m very lucky to have the help of Todd; we train on the same track.
“He told me it was confidence thing and rather than following them around at the park, he should be going with them at Cambridge.
“And he was right.
“The last two starts, just being within a few lengths of the winner, his ego has gone through the roof.
“At home, he’s gone from flopping around to thinking he’s the man.
“The other day he worked in front of a baby and was acting like he was god’s gift to the world.
“I guess, even with these older horses, it’s a mental thing.”
Rowden plays a big hand in promoting life after racing and is actively involved in the upcoming Anything But Standard Challenge, which essentially encourages participants to break retired Standardbreds to saddle.
“The South Island one is being held in two weeks, and the North Island one in three weeks.
“We’ve had a heap of sponsors come on board and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Rowden’s main squeeze is Mr Natural, who she’s proudly qualified for the upcoming National Horse of the Year competition in the Hawkes Bay.
He also led out last month’s Auckland Cup field at Alexandra Park.
“He’ll be staying with me forever; there is a lot of sentimental value there with him.”
And it’s more than likely Still Eyre’s future lies in the show ring, as well.
“I already train him under saddle and he’s qualified for the montes.”