FRESH from a personal best season, Kate Hargreaves has knuckled straight back down to the business of training winners.
The young Bendigo trainer opened her account for the 2019-20 harness racing season with the win of Zazu at Ballarat's Bray Raceway on Wednesday night.
It continued an amazing nine months for Hargreaves and partner Aex Ashwood, since setting up operations at Shelbourne in January.
Both recorded career best seasons, with Hargreaves training 24 winners - equal fourth in the district behind only Glenn Douglas (112), Chris Svanosio (43) and Graeme Dalton (25) - and Ashwood steering home 66 winners, following a previous high of 44.
But as demonstrated by Zazu's win NR 22-55 win, the team has its sights set on even bigger numbers in the new racing year.
"We only trained nine winners to the previous season, so to train 24 exceeded our expectations," Hargreaves said.
"I think having our own place (at Shelbourne) and being able to do what we like and work the horses the way we liked has really helped.
"We also got a few better horses into the stable which has definitely helped.
"Our numbers have really expanded in probably the last three or months, which is what we set out to do.
"It's up to about 20, which was a bit of a goal of ours."
Hargreaves has already set herself a lofty goal for the new season, as she continues to establish herself as one of the state's most accomplished young trainers.
"I don't know if I am aiming too high, but I'd like to get 40 winners this season," she said.
"You have to have goals and I think we have the horses capable of doing it.
"We have some nice two-year-olds coming through, who should win races, and then there's others like Well Defined, who is due to come back, and a few maidens that should be able to work their way through the grades."
Well Defined - a winner of five of 10 starts last season - is being prepared for a comeback after a three-month spell.
The gelding gave Hargreaves her first Group race win in the $25,000 Tontine Trotting Championship at Terang in March.
That victory was the fourth of five-straight for Well Defined, who earned just shy of $30,000 for the season.
Hargreaves and Ashwood also enjoyed plenty of success with Resurgent Spirit, who won a heat of the Tasmanian Pacing Cup and finished fourth in the final, to end the season with three wins and three seconds from 14 starts for $31,665 in earnings.
Zazu ensured a perfect start to the new season for Hargreaves - she has had one starter for one win.
Her next runner will be the likely favourite Key Defender in a three-year-old event at Mildura on Friday, followed by Tippitinya in a heat of the Hero Battle of the Claimers at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night.
A busy year at the Shelbourne complex included the arrival of a team of horses from South Australian trainer Aaron Bain, who established a satellite-stable there with some success.
"We have a couple of horses ... Aaron is so easy to deal with," Hargreaves said.
"We got some success early on, so hopefully we can got some more success together this season."
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