Aitken on the board

By Jonny Turner

A cold winter’s day some would rather forget is one Nicole Aitken will look back fondly on.

The Mataura horsewoman produced her first official win as a trainer when Havarti Arden held out a line up of challengers to win race 9 at Ascot Park on Friday.

Though she has been involved in harness racing for several years, Aitken is in her first season as a trainer.

It hasn’t taken long for her to get into the winner’s circle with Havarti Arden just her 15th starter.

“I am pretty stoked, I am pretty happy with her actually,” the trainer said.

Before taking out her trainer’s licence, Aitken worked with Edendale trainer Alex Milne.

The pair combined to win with Paradise Valley, who has moved into Aitken’s care and also produced consistent results this season.

“I have had a couple of winners with ones I have bred with Alex Milne,” Aitken said.

“I worked on and off with him for a few years.”

“I have gone out on my own this year and it seems to be going OK.”

Aitken works her team around her work and family commitments.

“I have a part-time job and two boys that are here, there and everywhere for sport.”

“It is busy, but it is good and when the horses goes like this it helps out.”

Havarti Arden produced a big last start second at Ascot Park showing she was ready to break through on Friday.

Making it into the winner’s circle completed a big journey for the pacer, who came into Aitken’s care as something of a cast-off.

“I have been grazing her since she was a yearling.”

“Her old owner had given up on her and he asked me if I wanted her and I took her.”

Aitken admitted Havarti Arden wasn’t an immediate success, but the mare has continued to improve with racing.

“I wasn’t entirely sure about her for a start, but every time she has come to the races she has stepped up.”

“And today was a great result.”

Driver Jonny Cox made a crucial mid-race move with Havarti Arden to take the lead in the middle stages after the pair settled back in the running from a tough draw.

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