Irish Independent - Weekend Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

Rookie trainer Ell­marie Holden (27) from Bal­ly­hale in Co Kilkenny got her big break af­ter guid­ing geld­ing Abo­li­tion­ist — owned by her mother, Cather­ine, and rid­den by Rachael Blackmore — to suc­cess at the Le­in­ster Na­tional re­cently. And the ris­ing star, who got her re­stricted trainer’s li­cence last sum­mer, be­lieves it’s im­por­tant to give Ireland’s fe­male jock­eys a leg-up in their ca­reers too.

WI was brought up with horses from day one. My dad, Paul, had a cou­ple of horses in train­ing with Eoin Doyle, Shark Hanlon and var­i­ous peo­ple. So when he bought a farm a cou­ple of years ago and built a new gal­lop on it, I was kind of like, “I’ll do the li­cence if you give me all your horses!” I was al­ways mad to do it; it was just to get the op­por­tu­nity.

Since get­ting my li­cence last year, ev­ery­one has been so nice and wel­com­ing. Ev­ery­one knows you’re kind of new. It is more of a man’s world, but that never both­ered me. Be­ing a trainer def­i­nitely isn’t glam­orous. You’re up at six to the yard to feed your horses, do a bit of muck­ing out and ride out a cou­ple of lots. When you’re go­ing rac­ing three or four times a week, you tend to stick to jeans and wellies.

I have Abo­li­tion­ist in the Grand Na­tional on Easter Mon­day. Be­tween win­ning the Le­in­ster Na­tional, go­ing to Chel­tenham with Ex Pa­triot the week af­ter, and now the Ir­ish Na­tional, it’s just been a crazy cou­ple of months. I didn’t ex­pect to even have a run­ner in the Le­in­ster Na­tional, let alone a win­ner. I don’t know how many horses Rachael Blackmore’s (see page 13) af­ter rid­ing for me now, but she’s been so lucky for me. She’s al­ways been first, sec­ond or third. The two of us are just work­ing well to­gether so far.

The se­cret to be­ing a good trainer is know­ing what you have. You can see when a horse is thriv­ing on its work. When the horses are fit and happy and well, that’s when you run them. All horses come and go. You would have your favourites — your lit­tle sta­ble stars — but you can’t get too at­tached. We only have a small num­ber of horses in train­ing at the mo­ment. A cou­ple of peo­ple have asked me to train a few horses, but be­cause I don’t have the full li­cence, I can’t yet.

It’s nice when you’re get­ting go­ing that it’s just fam­ily. I’ve only got one per­son to give out to me!

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