Holmes gets 500


Leithfield Beach horseman Robbie Holmes extended his family’s incredible legacy in New Zealand harness racing when winning his 500th race as a trainer on Sunday.

Holmes brought up the ‘half ton’ when he drove Princess Fulham to victory in his stable colours at Timaru’s Phar Lap Raceway.

Earlier on in the day, he recorded training win number 499 with a trotter, Tres Magnifique.

The notably humble Holmes said his achievement was not something he had been focused on leading in to Sunday’s meeting. 

“It has been a wee while since we started, but we have jumped that hurdle and we’re half way to ‘a grand’ now,” he said.

Holmes has trained 10 Group race winners among his haul of 500 victories, with five of those coming at Group 1 level.

The majority of those successes came with his champion mare, Kiwi Ingenuity.

Holmes clearly rates her as the best horse he has trained.

“For sure, she was one out of the box to be honest and hopefully we will see another one like her in the barn.”

Kiwi Ingenuity scored Group 1 wins in the New Zealand Oaks, New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Stakes, the Queen Of Hearts and at the Harness Jewels, where she set the all-comers New Zealand mile record at Ashburton in 2009.

Naturally, winning those races were highlights of the mare’s career, but Holmes rates winning the Pelorus four-year-old Classic at Blenheim highly, as well.

“When she beat the colts at Blenheim, that was probably one of the most satisfying wins because that stamped her mark that she was going to go places.”

Holmes’ first Group 1 win came when he trained and drove Romper Stomper to win the 2007 New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All.

Tres Magnifique took Holmes to 499 training wins when she trotted to a maiden victory in her first run back from a spell.

“She hasn’t been entirely 100% foolproof, but she put it all together.

“She is out of a nice mare, Smitten, from the trotting family of the Smith’s from Kaikoura.”

Smitten is from a daughter of Kahu Del, the dam of champion trotter, Lyell Creek.

Holmes’ 500th win milestone came when Princess Fulham dashed along the Timaru passing lane to win.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of form in the race and I thought if she could stay handy she should be able to ping home.

“She has got good gate-speed and everything worked out for her.”

Holmes’ first training victory came when Albion Park won a maiden trot at Gore in 1998.

The trainer’s 500th training win milestone adds another chapter to the incredible legacy the Holmes name has in New Zealand harness racing.

Four generations of the family have achieved top-level success.

Robbie’s late father, Colin, had success as a trainer, as did his uncle, Kevin, a World Drivers Championship winner.

Robbie’s grandfather, Allan, and great-uncle, Maurice, were both New Zealand Cup winners.

Holmes is the great-grandson of Inter Dominon Pacing Final and New Zealand Cup winning driver, Free Holmes. 

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