By Duane Ranger
There's few horsemen or horsewomen that consistently boast a UDR strike-rate of six or more but the ‘punter's friend’ looks likely to increase that even more when she lines up in the first event at Cambridge Raceway on Wednesday night.
Sheryl Wigg finished out of the money three times in 16 amateur drives this season, winning seven times, running second on five occasions, and placing third once.
That trend looks like it will continue in the $6,500 Harness Jewels June 2 Tickets On Sale Now Amateur Mobile for the R40 to R56 pacers.
Wigg will steer the Tim Vince-trained The Persuader from gate three, and she labelled the seven-year-old Christian Cullen gelding a winner.
"I think he will be very hard to beat. He's been so unlucky since he has come north and I'm very confident about his chances," said Wigg, who boasts an amazing 0.6319 UDR strike-rate this season.
"We have made a few gear adjustments. We have put the sliders on instead of the blinds and have modified his shoeing because he was hitting his knee."
The money was on The Persuader when he finished eighth in the hands of Sheree Tomlinson when last tried at Cambridge Raceway on February 22.
"I hate losing. I'm a very competitive person no matter what I do,” Wigg stressed.
The 46-year-old Kumeu-based horsewoman loves harness racing so much she recently sold her ‘Meow Meow’ cattery business so she could buy a property with a 600m track at Kumeu with her partner and stable trainer, Vince.
The Persuader has had three starts for Vince since coming north from Eion Latimer's Oamaru stable in January. It will be the first time Wigg will have driven him.
"He's working well and even though he's not that quick out of the gate I think he will get a nice sit from his good draw. I'm a confident person and I think he just wins," said Wigg.
She also thought that Vince had a good chance of quinella-ing the 1700m mobile.
"We've only got two in on Wednesday, and even though Scanreco Bay has drawn wide (8) he 's a tough old horse and can sit parked and still be in the fight.
"Nigel Chalmers will do the driving and he's a very good reinsman. He's driven a lot of winners as an open horseman, so that horse will get every chance. I think he can place. The aim is to run one-two," Wigg said.
Wigg has been an amateur driver since the 2015 season and has reined home 24 winners and 32 place-getters ($115,375) from 69 career drives. Her life-time UDR is a healthy 0.4992.
Even though she would like to see amateur drivers get more opportunities the former jockey’s life is 100 per cent committed to standardbreds.
"I live for horses. I would be with them 24/7 if I could. We work a team of about 14 and KD Hall (11 wins and $124,390) is our stable star. He’s an old war-horse and at eight is still going very well,” Wigg said
“We bought four at the recent yearling sales, including KD Hall’s little half brother,” she added.
That colt is named KD Summit, who is by Peak, is out of the five-win Armbro Invasion mare, Kazzle Dazzle.
Wigg leads the national amateur driving premiership with seven wins - two more than her second placed twin sister Cheree. She is on target to beat her personal best season of 10 wins recorded in 2016-2017.
Meanwhile, the Logan Hollis and Shane Robertson (Pukekohe) trained Awhi Mai (Give Me Hugs) also looks a solid winning chance in the last event - the $8,000 See Cambridgeraceway.co.nz For All Jewels Info Handicap Trot.
The three-year-old Majestic Son filly will be making her debut in that 2200m handicap and has drawn the ace marble.
Awhi Mai, who will be driven by Hollis, has won her last three workouts and trial - the last one convincingly by two lengths at Alexandra Park on Sunday February 25.