It has been a month of highs and lows for Cambridge trainer Arna Donnelly.
The talented horsewoman underwent surgery late last month after breaking her leg in a float incident and just a few weeks later she is celebrating her most successful season to date as a trainer.
Four-year-old mare In The Shadows recorded Donnelly’s 26th win of the season when taking out the Sim Pacific Metals Mobile Pace (2200m) at Alexandra Park last Friday, bettering her previous mark of 25 wins set in 2017.
Donnelly was delighted with the victory and was pleased to have reached that target with the daughter of Shadow Play.
“It was awesome to bring up that win with her because she’s one of my favourites and is a special wee horse,” Donnelly said.
“She has been racing super. She just tries her heart out and she is just so brave, so it was a top effort.”
The daughter of Group One-winning mare Waitfornoone was heading into Friday with back-to-back placings and Donnelly was confident she could put in another good showing for her nationwide ownership group.
“She lacks that little bit of gate speed, but I did think she was a really good chance heading into Friday,” Donnelly said.
“Her work had been good through the week and she has been racing well.
“We have got a big syndicate of owners in her. They are fantastic people from all over the country, so it’s awesome for them to be a part of it.
“We’ll keep racing her for as long as she is happy and sound. The harder they go the better she likes it, so hopefully that next grade up shouldn’t be too much of an issue.”
If In The Shadows continues her run of form she could book her ticket south to Christchurch next month, with Friday’s win bringing her within $1,000 of qualifying for the Gr.1 Harness Jewels 4YO Diamond.
One stablemate who has already booked his ticket is three-year-old colt Double Rocket.
The son of American Ideal, who finished fifth in the Gr.1 New Zealand Pacing Derby (2600m) at Addington last month, is set to return south next week in preparation for the Gr.1 Harness Jewels 3YO Emerald.
He is currently third on the Jewels leaderboard and is set to contest the Listed Garrards NZ Sires’ Stakes Sophomore Classic (1980m) at Addington later this month in preparation for his Group One assignment.
Double Rocket had a final northern hit-out at the Pukekohe workouts on Saturday and Donnelly was pleased with what she saw ahead of his southern campaign.
“I trialled three at Pukekohe on Saturday,” she said. “Double Rocket was one, he will head south next week. There’s a $40,000 race coming up on the 17th of May, so we will be all over the country for the next bit.”
Donnelly was also pleased with her other two triallists, siblings Jazmin Royale and CK Spur.
“I also had a really nice two-year-old qualify, she might even race this week,” Donnelly said.
“She’s a trotter by Monarchy called Jazmin Royale, she qualified about 10 seconds under (qualifying time). She went against older horses, so it was a really good effort.
“I think she will be a really nice three-year-old. It’s a shame she missed most of her two-year-old season, she had a bad cough and couldn’t really shake it, so that held us back that little bit. But she seems to be on top of things now and she trialled super.
“Her older brother trialled well too, CK Spur. He’s come up really well.”
With her racing team set to be spread across the country in the next month, Donnelly highlighted the importance of her staff and the lengths they have gone to since she broke her leg last month.
“My staff have been fantastic, I take my hat off to them,” Donnelly said. “Everyone has just gone the extra mile and it has really been appreciated.
“A lot of friends and family and extra helpers have turned up to give us a hand, it has been fantastic. But I am still there every morning and try and do as much as I can without getting in the way.”
Meanwhile, in another exciting development for Donnelly, she has recently diversified her business to include agistment after purchasing a property near Cambridge.
“It’s 50 acres and it is all really well fenced with horse safe gates,” she said. “Horses do really well out here. We have got quite a few out here at the moment who are due back in the next month or so.” – Cambridge Raceway
Race Replay: In the Shadows winning at Alexandra Park