Mare goes bush ahead of debut

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk

Reigning Arden has taken a different route to the races than most horses.

The diminutive pacer will make her debut as a five-year-old at Waterlea Raceway on Friday, but that wasn’t in the original blueprint of her connections.

The daughter of Bettor’s Delight was purchased out of Arden Lodge’s 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred National Yearling Sale draft for $18,000 and her early education with trainer Simon Adlam went to plan.

However, when returning to her owner’s Central Otago property for a spell, Reigning Arden decided to go rogue.

“The owners have got an 8,000-acre station near Tarras and the horse went missing for 12 to 18 months,” Adlam said.

“I think she just turned up one day. She must have been hiding under a Matagouri Bush or a bit of scrub every time they went down looking for her.”

While her absence wasn’t ideal, Adlam said her time away actually benefited the mare.

“She has been better for the time because she is so small, she is only 14 hands,” he said.

Reigning Arden returned to Adlam’s care last winter and has pleased the Ashburton horseman in the lead-up to her debut in the John Taylor Memorial Mobile Pace (1850m) at Waterlea Raceway on Friday.

“She qualified well and then went a good trial before Christmas,” Adlam said.

“I had her in to race at Ashburton, but I had to scratch her. I think it might have been a bee sting, but I’m not too sure. She is all good now.

“She hopefully won’t be too far away on Friday. It is her first start, but you have got to start somewhere.”

Adlam will also line-up last start winner Itz Magical Meg in the Speight’s Ale House Blenheim Mobile Pace (1850m).

“She has been going well. Even before she ran two seconds, she wasn’t having much luck in the running, and she won well the other day,” he said.

“It all depends on the run, but hopefully she will go a good race again on Friday. I don’t think she will be far away by the way she has been going.”

Adlam is enjoying his time at the top of the South Island and reminiscing about his time he spent in the region during his youth.

“I used to live up here,” he said. “I worked here for a year for a trainer called Robert Hamilton back in the eighties. That is why I always love coming back here.”

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