By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Cambridge Raceway stalwart Donald Cossey had a memorable night at his home track on Thursday night when returning to the winner’s circle as a trainer for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Cossey is a familiar face around the Waikato track, having driven the mobile on racenight for more than 15 years as well as being the track farrier.
“I was shoeing horses and worked for the Cambridge trotting track for a few years,” Cossey said. “I was the course farrier as well as the mobile driver on race night. All those years I gave up training.
“I turned 70 not too long ago and I thought when I turned 70 that would be it.”
Cossey elected to hand in the driver’s keys at the start of the season and return to training and was rewarded with a win in the Happy Hour At The Clubhouse 4-6pm Mon-Wed Handicap Trot (2700m) on Thursday night with Highview Rockn Roll.
“I am over the moon, she went very well,” Cossey said.
“She had been working quite well and she has come through it well by the looks of things.”
The filly extended her career tally to one win and two placings from just four starts, but it hasn’t been all plain sailing for the pacing-bred three-year-old.
Cossey initially tried the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven out as a pacer, but after she showed limited ability in that gait, he elected to try her without hopples, and she proved to be a natural trotter.
“I couldn’t believe it when I got her, I thought she was going to be a pacer and I went out on the track at the workouts and she showed me nothing as a pacer, she was very ordinary,” he said.
“I decided to take the hopples off one day and just work her with no hopples on and all she wanted to do was trot, so I thought ‘here we go, this is it’.
“She is a great beginner and she hasn’t looked back. She has got great manners, that is the key with her.”
Cossey initially happened across Highview Rockn Roll online and decided to lease her, and he said he is enjoying every minute having her in his barn.
“Her former owners put her online for lease and I thought I would have a go with her,” he said. “We got her going and when she qualified I thought we would buy her.
“My nephew, Nick Coxon, and I bought her and we are going to have a bit of fun with her.”
Originally hailing from Taranaki, Cossey is a member of one of the region’s most prominent harness racing family’s, and he has enjoyed a lifelong involvement in the sport.
“The family has been in harness racing all of our lives,” Cossey said. “Farley races down in Taranaki, and Jason had a win the other night down in Palmerston North.
“When I left school I started working for Ivan Dickie, John Dickie’s father. I was with him for about eight years, he taught me a lot, he was a very good trainer.
“I also worked with Jack Davies, and I was foreman for Ross Olivieri when he was in New Zealand for Curtin Farms.”
Cossey transitioned to become a farrier and has shod a number of quality horses over the years, but admitted Highview Rockn Roll is his favourite horse that he has shod.
“I shod Just An Excuse to win his first New Zealand Cup, but Sovereignty would be the best horse I have shod, I would say. He was a hell of a good trotter,” Cossey said.
“But I like this little filly (Highview Rockn Roll). Being by Rock N Roll Heaven, I call her Angel because that is where Angels come from, heaven.
“She is just an angel, she is just the best, and would be my favourite horse I have shod so far.”
Cossey initially took out his trainer’s license in 1986 and he said Rannach Ruler was the best horse that went through his care.
“I owned a horse called Rannach Ruler, he was the two-year-old trotter of the year in 1989. I sold him to Australia,” he said.
Cossey is enjoying his return to training and is looking to breed from his mare Alanajane this coming season, after health issues forced him to end her racing career after he suffered health issues.
“I have got a broodmare I want to put in-foal next season,” Cossey said. “She is a Monarchy mare out of an Armbro Invasion mare. She never raced.
“I got her broken in and I took ill for a little while. I ended up with a stent and a heart pacemaker in 2013. I am still shoeing horses though.
“She never went anywhere and I just want to breed a foal out of her.”
In the meantime, Cossey is having the time of his life working his Angel and is hoping Thursday night won’t be the last time he visit’s the winner’s circle with his pride and joy.