By Duane Ranger
Local trainer Nicky Chilcott will line up two runners at the 12th annual Harness Jewels Finals at Cambridge Raceway on Saturday.
Juice Brogden contests the Gr.1 $150,000 Woodlands Stud for 4yo pacing mares; and Monaro Mia will start in the Gr.1 $125,000 What The Hill 3yo Ruby Trot.
“Juice has never felt this good. She pulled up a bit sick in the Messenger and we have treated her since and she’s literally grown wings. She trialled the best she ever has at Pukekohe two weeks ago,” Chilcott said.
“I will be looking to lead with her and stay. The way she feels now – we can definitely win.”
Like Juice Brogden, Monaro Mia ‘worked up a storm’ on the beach on Monday.
“Even though she has improved from her last two Oaks’ wins, I’ll still be asking Mark (Purdon) if he can take a rope with him and tow us all the way up the lane. Winterfell is definitely the horse to beat. We couldn’t have asked for a better marble being drawn in behind him and I’d be delighted to run second in that race,” Chilcott said.
Chilcott will drive Juice Brogden, who has drawn ideally at three, while Sailesh Abernethy has retained the steer behind Monaro Mia.
Juice Brogden has won six of her 21 starts and placed in eight others for $89,285 for breeders and part-owners Graham and Judy Bowen.
Bowen, who is the vice president of the Waikato – BOP Harness and was the CEO of Waikato Rugby for eight years, a strong Waikato supporter and his horses race in the provincial yellow, black and red colours.
The New Zealand TAB fixed odds market opened Juice Brogden as a $9.50 prospect in an even field. Utmost Delight (Ricky May), who copped the widest second row draw of 13, opened up the $3.50 favourite.
Monaro Mia has also drawn perfectly (9) - one on the second line - in behind the $1.35 favourite and likely pace-maker, Winterfell.
She has now won five of her 18 starts and placed in three others for $49,600.
She is yet to start over the mobile mile but did win her only start on the track last start (May 17) when nailing the inaugural $15,000 Haras des Trotteurs Waikato Trotting Oaks from gate eight as a $1.60 favourite.
That victory came six days after Monaro Mia won the Gr.3 $30,000 Haras des Trotteurs Northern Trotting Oaks victory at Alexandra Park.
Win or lose Chilcott is currently experiencing her most lucrative season in 20 years of training.
“It would be a dream come true to win a Jewels crown on my home patch, especially in ‘Juice’s’ Waikato colours. I’d love to win it for both sets of owners. They have all been so good to me and Graeme does so much for the club,” Chilcott said.