TED and Faye Jepsen had more than one reason to smile as they left the Charlton harness racing track on Monday afternoon.
The 86-year-old trainer from Lockington and his wife were undeniably thrilled to have won the last race on the card with their lone horse Wenthestarzzzaline, who duly notched up career win number five at start number 38.
Even better still, they headed home with a new horse to race.
Jepsen, a long-time hobby trainer, has more often than not in recent years poked around with just the one horse.
But with the lease on Wenthestarzzzaline due to expire in August this year, he had been on the lookout for another.
On Monday, the victorious seven-year-old mare was accompanied home by the Jepsen's newest project Desire To Live, a three-year-old pacer with just four starts alongside her name and formerly trained in Mildura by Scott Garraway.
Her arrival means Jepsen will have two horses for the time being accompany him on his daily 54-kilometre round trek to the Elmore racetrack each morning for work.
The sprightly Jepsen could not be happier.
"I have a bit of a rapport with fillies. Epona Sunshine broke the track record years ago at Charlton," he said.
"Hopefully, I can turn this one (Desire To Live) around and do something.
"She's only had the four starts, but she broke in two of them, so I'll see what I can do with her."
Jepsen rated Wenthestarzzzaline's handy 2.2-metre win at Charlton, which came on the back of a second at Shepparton late last month after the mare was 'out of position' at the start of the race, as 'another feather in the cap'.
"The stewards did me a favour when they put her out of the draw when she ran second at Shepparton," he said.
"I did wonder what went wrong as she is usually a good beginner, so I took her to the Bendigo trials the following Sunday and she put in a top run and finished second.
"That really topped her off.
"She was always going to draw 10 in this race (at Charlton), but we've got her back in there.
"We've done well with her. She's a seven-year-old now and when she goes back she'll be eight, so it will be a good time to put her in foal.
"She ran 1:54 (on Monday), so she did well - that was her best mile rate.
"She's won five races and won over $30,000 in a bit over 12 months. I told Greg Sugars, who drove her, it's becoming harder to place her now.
"I've learned it's better to keep her over the short (distance), she's not super, super fit to run a distance."
Jepsen has his eyes on another short distance race at Tabcorp Park Melton on January 27 for Wenthestarzzzaline and will head that way with his trademark quiet confidence.
The mare previously won at harness racing headquarters at the start of 2020 and has been further placed there in two of six starts.
For Jepsen, age continues to prove no barrier to success.
The former Yarraville and Sunshine VFA footballer and one-time promising boxer and athlete plans to continue training for a few years yet.
"Faye and I have decided we want to continue to go down this path until we can't do it," he said.
"I hope to retire when I'm about 90.
"If you have got your health and are happy, why not."
Meanwhile, Charlton's first meeting for 2021 was highlighted by the setting of a new track record and the return of spectators to the track.
The Aaron Dunn-trained three-year-old Bondi Lockdown set a new 2100m (mobile start) pacing mark with a slashing 1:55 mile rate in race two, eclipsing the previous record set by Euston All Action in 2014.
In the day's opening event, the Keith Douglas-trained Hanging On A Dream equalled the existing 2570m track record for trotters, posting a mile rate of 2:03.3 with Lockwood's Neil McCallum in the sulky.
Bendigo region trainers and drivers combined to win five of the day's nine events.
Added to the successes of Jepsen and McCallum to bookend the meeting, Junortoun's Trevor Monk scored a win with Gooroc Gambler, Goornong traiuner-driver landed a victory with Sheza Chocolatier, while Axedale trainer Mick Carbone added his name to the winners' list with a fourth career win for Lets Make Tracks.
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