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Aotearower brings Olympians a stroke of galloping luck at Rotorua
19 Oct 2016

A crew of Olympic rowers had a stroke of luck at Saturday's Rotorua races.

Their beautiful mare with the wonderful name Aotearower racing in the famous Cambridge Stud colours dug deep over the final few 100 metres of the Rydes Hotel Rotorua 1215 in the hands of jockeyMichael Coleman to win.

Owned by Cambridge Stud the horse is raced in partnership by stud principals Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan with international past and present rowing stars Hamish Bond, Eric Murray, Mahe Drysdale, Nathan Cohen, Joseph Sullivan and the large and vocal Social Racing No 2 Syndicate.

In contrast to her famous owners, Aotearower is no superstar but she's a fairly handy galloper and Saturday's was her fourth win for Matamata trainers Ken and Bev Kelso.

Her second win was at Matamata in February when Bond decided to cycle from his training base in Cambridge to the racecourse 30-odd kilometres away to watch the race.

He got his timing wrong and arrived to see the rumps of the horses disappearing into the distance as they finished the race.

Ken Kelso thinks she could give owners another thrill or two before she retires from the track to take up broodmare duties in Cambridge.

But the race is on, she has an imminent date with Cambridge Stud's handsome superstar sire Tavistock.

But Coleman reckons she's a bit like Murray and Bond and she's getting better with age.

The  top jockey dismounted from the 5-year-old on Saturday and said she's getting bigger and stronger and racing like a horse in career-best form and capable of winning a black-type race.

Her owners were missing from the Rotorua grandstands on Saturday but if she doesn't keep her date with Tavistock and lines up in some feature races in the next few months they might jump on their bikes and get to the races.

Saturday's win was a pleasant surprise for connections with doubts around her conditioning to handle the wet Rotorua conditions.

"I was surprised a little bit that she was ready to do that," Kelso said. "She is pretty good on her day, no doubt about that."

Tim Ryan

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