(By John Jenkins)
New Plymouth apprentice Hazel Schofer made a dream start to her riding career by kicking home two winners on her home track today, including one at her very first race-ride.

Schofer, 20, is attached to the stable of Allan Sharrock and both wins were on horses trained by her boss. She made a winning debut aboard first starter Tavi Mac in race two and then ended the programme with success aboard Collinstreet in race eight.

Sharrock, who has been a great conditioner of apprentices over the years with the likes of Michael Walker, Matthew Cameron and Wiremu Pinn having been indentured to him, said this week he held Schofer in high regard and had no qualms about putting her on four of his five starters at today’s New Plymouth meeting.

“I really think a lot of her. She’s shown a heap of ability. She uses the left-hand well with the whip and she’s a mature apprentice.”

Schofer’s first race-ride didn’t start well with Tavi Mac being one of the slowest to begin in the 1200m maiden. However she was able to pick a path through the field in the middle stages before moving up to join the leaders, three-wide, rounding the home bend.

Tavi Mac went to the front soon after and, although Schofer got a bit unbalanced late, her mount had enough in reserve to win by a long neck from Tarabeebee, with 1-3/4 lengths back to third placed Spirit Of Galway.

“He was an awkward ride for the girl,” Sharrock said.

“He’s a swayed back little fellow with a short neck and it made it look a bit uncomfortable but I think she kept her composure. She got excited late because she thought she was going to win but that was understandable.”

A happy Schofer said she didn’t panic when the horse was a bit tardy to begin.

“I managed to come through a few and get in a following position which seemed good. We got rolling at the 400 and he ran home good,” she said.

Schofer, who has a background in equestrian riding, was quick to thank Allan Sharrock and his partner Emma Davies along with Sharrock’s son Kane who she says have helped a lot with her riding.

“Mum’s here somewhere too and my grandparents so it was really good.”

Schofer’s first win was made even more special in that Allan Sharrock is a part-owner in Tavi Mac, a three-year-old colt by Tavistock out of the Maroof mare Bellaroof.

The Sharrock-trained Collinstreet started favourite for the Rating 65 race over 1800m and Schofer settled the horse well midfield in the early running but then got shuffled back to fourth last when the field bunched at the 600m. She managed to improve between horses again coming to the turn but then had to change ground early in the straight when another horse moved out on her.

Once in the clear Collinstreet seemed to change into over-drive and charged home for a decisive 2 length win over He’s Ric, with Wynthorpe a head back in third place.