FOR Pyramid Hill hobby trainer John Kennedy, success with Artmania was a long time coming.
But that only made the six-year-old gelding's success at Lord's Raceway this week even more sweeter.
The son of multiple Group 1 producing sire Modern Art had been absent from the racetrack for 14 months before his fourth-place effort at Swan Hill on May 22.
His return performance behind the South Australian visitor Edwin Bromac was encouraging enough for Kennedy to give Bendigo a crack on Tuesday night, albeit not with an amazingly high level of confidence.
The gelding, who was brilliantly driven by gun Bendigo driver Alex Ashwood, duly won at $11.80, notching up the third win of his stop-start career in start number 18, and his first since a victory at Port Pirie in September 2016.
"It was a great drive by Alex Ashwood, the drive probably won it for him ... he took a couple of short cuts," he said.
"It was his first drive for me ... and not his last I hope.
"The horse has had a long time off; he had 10 months off with a bit of a leg issue, so it was pretty satisfying to get him back and winning.
"He had a run at Swan Hill last week and that improved his fitness quite a bit."
Kennedy, who also bred Artmania, has had his trainer's licence for a little more than three years and has just two horses currently in work.
His involvement in harness racing stretches longer than that through his ownership of several horses trained in South Australia by his mate Vaughn Newman.
Kennedy's retirement about 18 months ago from his position at Goulburn Murray Water, has allowed the father of four daughters and two sons, to devote more time to his passions as both a part-time trainer and hobby farmer.
(Artmania) has had a long time off; he had 10 months off with a bit of a leg issue, so it was pretty satisfying to get him back and winning.- John Kennedy
The stablemate to Artmania, Celebrindal also featured at Bendigo, but finished at the tail of the field in a quality and hotly-contested C5 to C7 pace, won by the smart Courtney Slater-trained mare Goodtime Heaven, a winner of 10 of her 13 career starts, including her last six-in-a-row.
Celebrindal, a seven-year-old mare, has been a good horse for her trainer, winning eight times in 45 starts and being placed on 16 occasions.
Despite her excellent strike-rate, Kennedy insisted the clock was ticking on the mare's race career.
"We will probably retire her in the spring and she will go to stud next season, but hopefully there is a win or two ahead before then," he said.
"He was up a bit in class (on Tuesday), and the way the race worked out, they went a bit slow for the first two-thirds or half of that race.
"Those classes of horses, they ran home in pretty quick time - it;s pretty hard to make ground when you are giving them 20-metres start. It's near impossible.
"She's won a couple at Melton but is probably near her mark, so she is going to need a bit of luck going forward."
Kennedy will nevertheless have plenty to keep him busy going forward, with a few as yet untried youngsters in the stable, and hopes for a bit more success with Artmania.
"I do think there is a bit of improvement in him - I thought on Tuesday he might be struggling to win," he said.
"But he had a good run and a good drive from Alex; that makes all the difference.
"You have to have a bit of luck in harness racing."
Artmania was the first of three winners trained in the wider Bendigo region to score on Tuesday night.
Aaron Bain got a winner with the first of his runners (Melodys Daughter) from his new satellite stable at Shelbourne, while Maree Campbell claimed her sixth victory of the season with maiden three-year-old winner Belittled.
The flow of winners from the region continued on Wednesday with Castlemaine's Gary Scoble getting his third win in seven starts with his trotter Dealers Knock, Longlea's Matthew Gath scoring a maiden win with Tiger Life at the three-old-old trotter's third start, and Bendigo driver Ellen Tormey notching up another winner aboard Aztec Inti, who is trained by her father John Tormey at Charlton.
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