MONDAY: July 1, 2019: IT was a day Hawkesbury pair Jacqueline Greentree and Atsu Maeda will never forget.
Greentree clinched her first win as a hobby trainer at the Gundagai TAB meeting last Saturday – with Maeda aboard – and the 24-year-old Japanese apprentice later in the meeting notched his first double by scoring on another Hawkesbury representative, Tara and Philippe Vigouroux’s Enigami.
Greentree, who has been training for only a few years, put an end to seven minor placings from 63 previous starters by landing the Maiden Plate (1180m) with Cosmic Deluxe ($4).
The Delago Deluxe filly is raced by a syndicate of friends which includes Greentree and her husband Mark, and their cousin, Canberra trainer Garry Kirkup, was also on course to share in the post-race celebrations.
“It was a fantastic thrill,” a delighted Greentree said this morning. “It was still a long drive home (nearly four hours), but much sweeter than some of our other trips.
“The horses are a hobby. Mark and myself run an air-conditioning/refrigeration business, and we bought this filly (Lot 44) at the 2017 Scone yearling sale for $18,000.
“There was something about her we liked when she walked into the ring.”
Greentree has only two horses in work at Hawkesbury, but isn’t a racing fly-by-nighter.
She has done the hard yards, starting out at Newcastle when apprenticed to leading trainer Paul Perry.
“I rode in a couple of trials, but a career as a jockey just wasn’t for me,” she said.
“I subsequently rode work for Crown Lodge at Warwick Farm, and later went to Victoria to work for trainer Graeme Rogerson.”
Greentree doesn’t mind travelling with her horses, either. Though it was her first runner at Gundagai, it was the 23rd track she had visited in search of a breakthrough success.
She even ventured interstate to Ballarat with Bashirah – her first ever starter at Hawkesbury in August, 2015 – to contest the inaugural running of The Hotham, a $50,000 race for “lesser lights” in October, 2017.
The Hotham was restricted solely to maiden horses, with preference given to those with the most number of starts (Bashirah was racing for the 25th time that day).
“That was quite an experience and a lot of fun,” Greentree said. “Bashirah ran fifth in a field of 12.”
Greentree’s success was the 150th winner for Hawkesbury trainers so far this season.
Whilst she experienced victory for the first time, it has been a fantastic season for husband and wife Philippe and Tara Vigouroux, who made it win no 14 in 2018-19 with Enigami ($3.60 favorite) in the Benchmark 50 Handicap (1000m).
The eight-year-old mare is raced by Hawkesbury Race Club chairman Ken Quigley in partnership with his son-in-law Philippe.
Maeda’s 4kg claim was invaluable on both horses, boosting his career tally to five, and there is no doubt the young man is “driving” himself to succeed.
Apprenticed to Hawkesbury trainer Martin McInerney, he has been with him for three years – but has only just started riding in races.
His first winner was for former Hawkesbury trainer Bernie Kelly (now based at Scone) on Atum at Wellington on May 20 before scoring at the same track on Sugar Dance on June 6 for Gulgong trainer Brett Thompson.
Maeda drove to Tamworth last Friday to again win on Atum for Kelly, then had four rides at Gundagai the following day for his first double and also a minor placing on Single Zero for another Hawkesbury trainer Craig Weeding.
He then fronted up at Dubbo yesterday for one ride (finishing sixth on $11 chance Wild Cavalier), and was on the road again today to compete at Muswellbrook.
“Atsu is an only child and lives with my wife and myself at Arcadia, and drives himself to the track each morning and to the race meetings,” McInerney said.
“He is a terrific young man, and works hard.
“I also have show jumpers, and he rides them as well after coming home from trackwork in the morning.”
McInerney’s involvement with show horses led to him securing Maeda to join his stable.
“I export show horses to Japan, and Atsu came to me after initially spending 12 months in Brisbane, where he attended a school to learn English.
“He also did a TAFE riding course, but actually began to learn to ride at home when he joined the Japan Racing Association’s riding school.”
Riding racehorses isn’t Maeda’s only forte. He was the No 2 trial bike rider in Japan before moving to Australia four years ago.
“He is a real athlete,” McInerney said.