Millionaire pacer Arden Rooney is no stranger to creating history and on Saturday night he achieved another milestone.
A winner of 21 races including Group 1s the New Zealand Trotting Cup and A. G. Hunter Cup, the retired racetrack superstar is the first horse to be formally adopted as an ambassador by Horseland’s Bendigo store.
Manager Kylie Balazs said Horseland Bendigo had a number of sponsored riders, including Harness Racing Victoria HERO Program Retrainer Jason Dins.
However, the business has never previously taken an equine ambassador under its wings.
“Having a personal background in harness racing, I was already aware of Arden Rooney and his amazing achievements on the track,” Kylie said.
“To then see him move into life after racing, where he has been excelling under the training of Steve Cox, has been incredibly heart-warming.
“We are proud to support this special horse in his new career and hope that our sponsorship will further raise the profile of retired standardbreds as recreational and pleasure horses, and encourage more people to learn about the breed over the next 12 months.”
Arden Rooney is being trained as a liberty horse and made his first public appearance at Elmore Equestrian Centre at the weekend.
The appearance coincided with the Elmore EA Equestrian Club’s three-day Inter Schools Qualifier Competition, which drew young riders from throughout the State.
The nine-year-old gelding behaved impeccably and won hearts everywhere, completing a demonstration then posing for photographs with a legion of new pony club fans.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of Rooney and how well he handled the occasion,” Steve said.
“He was a wonderful ambassador for the HERO Program and standardbreds, and did a terrific job in an unfamiliar environment and in front of a crowd.
“His race owner, Merv Butterworth, has long said that Rooney enjoys being the centre of attention and that was certainly obvious on Saturday night.”