By Jordan Gerrans
JD Stephens’ stay in Queensland may well prove to be just a short one but when she looks back on the experience later in life, one milestone will stand out above the rest.
At just 21 years of age, the Kiwi-native picked up her first career winner as a harness racing trainer late last week at Albion Park with mare Scotts Rain, delivering Stephens a maiden triumph.
Stephens first came to the Sunshine State to help prepare Luke McCarthy’s Queensland team of eight pacers, alongside fellow trainer Ricky Thurlow, and has in recent weeks also worked with the McMullen stable.
In the process, the keen driver and trainer purchased Scotts Rain to help develop her own ambitions in the industry.
The bay mare, the rookie trainer's only pacer in work, now has two victories from seven career starts, with the latest over 2138 metres, driven by Hayden Barnes.
“I am friends with Xavier O'Connor, who used to drive her in Victoria, and I told him I was looking for a horse to start driving on and training with,” Stephens, who has been based in Australia for almost four years, said.
“He said he had a good one there for me so I bought it.
“That was the main reason I bought the horse, I want to get into my driving more, to have something of my own to get confidence on and learn the ropes of it all.”