Devon's first outing in the training ranks

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

Both horse and trainer will be on debut when Montoya lines up in the first at the Akaroa Trotting Club meeting at Motukarara on Saturday.

Devon van Til has had her trainer's licence for over a year but is yet to officially train a runner on race day. That all changes in the Lincoln Golden Oldies Mobile Pace at noon.

Last year she was poised to have her first runner, with Duastar in a Team Teal race but the horse was sold to Australia.

"I'm just really enjoying training," says van Til. Her day job is at Tom Bagrie's stables at Ohoka in North Canterbury, "then I come here and work him in the afternoons."

She trains at the Russley barn used by her fiance Steve Dolan. And the similarities don't end there.

"It will be the first time my colours (green and black) are raced in. They are the reverse of Steve's in the hope that we might train together one day down the track."

Van Til and Dolan had been looking for a while to get a suitable horse to train but she says it's not as easy as it seems.

"I wanted a maiden who'd been to the trials and it was a bit of a long and painful search."

"Some we saw they didn't want to sell or they failed the vet check or they wanted too much money."

They ended up with Montoya, A Rocknroll Dance gelding bred by Macca Lodge, who ran second to subsequent race winner Xlendi at the trials at Invercargill in August.

Uncle Ron van Til, of Rangiora Bakery fame, and the Full Monty Syndicate - "a mixture of friends and family" - share in the horse's ownership.

He has some quiet trials in Canterbury ahead of his race day debut. They have drawn one behind the mobile over 2000m.

"Don't know if that's a good or bad thing but hopefully we can hold up and get over the crossing ok."

"He is green and if he can go round safely and finish in the top three or four I'd be stoked."

Still a junior driver van Til, who has seven wins in the sulky this year and 14 overall, will also drive La Dama in Race 6 at Motukarara for another Russsley trainer Dean Hunter.

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