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Betty the eye of the Tiger

3 minute read

Australia's first licensed female number one trainer Betty Lane has always had a keen eye for a racehorse.

Australia's first licensed female number one trainer Betty Lane has always had a keen eye for a racehorse.

Lane, who handed in her trainer's badge just under a decade ago, these days acts as stable foreman for her partner Tiger Holland at Randwick.

The likeable couple are icons at "headquarters", both true characters of the turf and still enjoying a lifelong association with thoroughbreds.

On Saturday at Randwick, Holland will saddle up classy three-year-old Athelnoth in the feature race, the $70,000 Listed June Stakes (1100m).

It was Lane who selected Athelnoth as a weanling.

"He just caught my eye," she recalled.

"We were at the weanling sales at William Inglis just having a look around when Athelnoth came in the parade yard behind the sale ring.

"I don't know, I just liked him. I watched him walk down to be sold and we decided to put a bid in."

The son of Coronation Day was knocked down to Lane for $5,000.

Long-time client and friend Vince Coles took a share along with Lane and Holland.

Unfortunately due to ill-health last year, Coles sold his share back to Lane and Holland, not long before the gelding scored his career-best win in the Group Two Royal Sovereign Stakes.

Athelnoth, who at the time had won two races, was also the centre of a $150,000 offer.

"Tiger knocked them back," Lane said.

"He just said there's no way we're selling. He's a darn good horse."

Holland's opinion was vindicated when Athelnoth beat the likes of Planchet, Charlie Bub and Snowland in the Royal Sovereign at Randwick on February 22.

Lane was raised in Randwick but forced to move to Geurie, south of Dubbo, to take out a trainer's licence which she was granted in 1962.

"In those days women weren't allowed to be licensed in the city," Lane said.

"Times have changed now."

While Lane didn't train a Group One winner during her career, the likes of stakes winners Timothy, Belle Tetue, Nickson and Smokey Jack were testament to her ability.

And all of the above quartet were "cheapies" when purchased.

"Tiger thinks Athelnoth might be better than all of them," Lane suggested.

"He really likes the horse. It's been good for him."

Holland, a former jockey, has suffered from ill health in recent times but according to Lane, Athelnoth "helps him want to get to the track in the morning".

Athelnoth hasn't raced since winning the Royal Sovereign.

"Tiger wanted to trial him at Rosehill but they were washed out," Lane said.

"He was a bit disappointed but Athelnoth is very fit.

"Tiger wanted to put him away after the Royal Sovereign so he would still have a horse as a late three and four-year-old rather than take on the topliners at Easter.

"He's got it in mind to race him through to the spring.

"There should be a couple of nice races for him.

"It's a pretty big ask first-up without a trial against the older horses but he's had a fair bit of work.

"Like always we're hoping."

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