By BARRY LICHTER
Trainer Nicky Chilcott says few moments can trump the feeling she had when bringing debut winner It’s Nae Or Never back to scale at Cambridge on Friday night.
“There’s a huge syndicate that races her and so many of them were there. It was a fantastic feeling coming back to scale, the area was jam packed.”
The big turnout on a wet night ended a frustrating wait by the two dozen odd owners in the filly whose hopes of seeing her race in the Young Guns series at Auckland were dashed when she fractured a knee in a paddock accident in January.
It was hardly the start Chilcott wanted for the $75,000 yearling who was sent to the paddock for five months but now that she’s back there’s a smorgasbord of rich races coming up for her.
“We spent a bit of money on her, so she’s got a long way to go to win it back, but she’s paid up for everything.”
Among the first opportunities in Auckland are the $150,000 Harness Millions on February 16, the $70,000 Peter Breckon Memorial on March 15 and the $110,000 Northern Oaks on March 22.
“She’ll have a few starts to get some ringcraft then I’ll give her a little freshen-up before we target all the big races. I don’t know if she’s good enough to tackle the top fillies yet but it feels like there’s plenty of improvement in her and she’s so strong she’ll cop the racing.
“She’s one magnificent individual, she looks more like a three-year-old colt than a two-year-old filly.”
Chilcott says it’s scary just how much the Art Major filly is like her dam Juice Brogden who won nine races for her breeders Graham and Judy Bowen, and narrowly went under to the then unbeaten Partyon in the 2017 Northern Oaks.
“Looks-wise she’s nothing like her. Juice was a big, dark mare with so much bling you’d think she was a Sweet Lou. This one’s very plain, but she’s built like a tank.
“But in every other way she’s her mother’s daughter. It’s all a bit of a game to her at the moment and that was Juice’s issue the whole way through. It’s not that she didn’t try, she was just a goof ball.
“Nae was very green on Friday night. In the last 20 or 30 metres she started goofing around and looking to the inside of the track. Some of them are natural racehorses but she doesn’t know how to knuckle down and race yet.”
Chilcott says there are so many other funny little things the filly does that remind her of her mum, so much so she gets called Juice junior around the stable.
“She does little bunny rears walking out onto the track, Juice did exactly the same.
“It’s hard to get a line on her because she’s not a great trackworker and neither was Juice.”
There was plenty of late money to say It’s Nae Or Never could beat the favourite Lenny Lincoln on Friday night but Chilcott thought halfway through the race that she couldn’t win, even though she was sitting in the trail.
“They were going too slowly and went nearly a 34 mid-quarter. She’ll run you a good quarter but she doesn’t have an electric turn of foot.
“Even halfway up the straight I didn’t think I’d win. Lenny Lincoln didn’t get me to the lane and the others wider out had their momentum up. The track was also quite sloppy and I knew I wouldn’t zip. It wasn’t until the last 20 or 30 metres that I thought I’d win.
“She’s going to be way better when they go really hard, she feels like she’ll be a good follower of speed. A walk and sprint is not her go.”
In the end, It’s Nae Or Never prevailed in a four-way finish, only necks separating the first four home.
Chilcott said it was a terrific result for the Bowens, who retained a share in the filly, to have Juice Brogen’s first foal win on debut.
“It’s game changing for Graham and Jude to have a good broodmare.”
Juice Brogden’s second foal, a Captaintreacherous colt named Turn O The Tide, fetched $95,000 and is pleasing Stonewall Stud in his early preparation.
And, after a year off, Juice has just produced another Captaintreacherous colt.
If It’s Nae Or Never measures up, Chilcott might have to get an even bigger group together to be able to afford to buy him.
The filly’s happy owners include Sheryl and Guppy Hamilton, John Coulam, John Magness, Kevin and Cathy Brennan’s Brennan Five syndicate, Richard Trench, Matty Jelaca and the It’s Nae Or Never syndicate comprising Gary Williams, Russell and Heather Steel, Graeme and Christine Gillanders, Ian Upston, Dave Cousins, Tom Rodewald, Noelene Horsburgh and Lyn Chilcott.