The Nicky Chilcott-trained Juice Brogden made the best possible start to her final season on the track, winning the Thank You Graham Bayley - 37 Years At F'lin Park Hcap Pace (2700m) at Alexandra Park on Friday night.
Driven by Chilcott, the six-year-old daughter stepped away well from her 20m handicap and settled midfield before she was sent forward to take the lead at the bell.
The Cambridge-based trainer/driver injected pace into the race down the back straight and was able to get a break of four lengths on her competitors.
Juice Brogden was brave to the line, holding out a fast finishing Check In to win by a length, with a further 3-1/2 lengths back to Shillelagh in third.
“It was very brave, she is a tough mare and I think it was a very good drive by our trainer,” co-owner and breeder Graham Bowen, said.
“She had a little bit of luck, which you always need in those races, but she hasn’t had much lately.”
Although Juice Brogden pleased her connections with her last start runner-up performance at Alexandra Park, Bowen was still cautious heading into Friday night, with her 20m handicap a concern.
“That was a bigger field last night,” he said. “We were thinking when you are back on 20m you are going to have to pass most of them, that was always a bit of a worry because the fields had been smaller over the last couple of months.
“But she had been working really well, Nicky was really happy with her.”
Earmarked for the breeding paddock this spring, Bowen said Juice Brogden will only have a few more starts and the recently elected President of Waikato-Bay of Plenty Harness would like her to have her swansong at her home track.
“We are going to breed from her this year, so she has only got a limited number of opportunities left,” he said.
“We are thinking the Te Awamutu Cup at Cambridge might be an option for us. It’s our home track and there are three of us in the racing ownership that are on the board and committee at Cambridge.
“We are always looking for a chance to race there if we can.”
Bred by Bowen and his wife Judy, Juice Brogden will take some strong credentials into her next career, having won nine of her 42 starts and finished runner-up in the Gr.1 Northern Oaks (2700m) and Listed PGG Wrightson Uncut Gems Mares Classic (2200m).
“That is one of the more pleasing things for my wife and I, we bred her ourselves and now we are going to be able to go on and breed from her,” Bowen said.
“She is going to be a nice broodmare. She has won about $145,000 now and only had 42 starts, so she hasn’t been overraced.
“She has a nice depth to her pedigree. The mum (Hayley Brogden) has left a number of nice horses.”
Being a Bettor’s Delight mare, Bowen said it has been difficult to select a mating.
“It’s always hard with a Bettor’s Delight in terms of the choice of sires you have got, it is a little bit limited.
“She will be going to Art Major in the spring and I am looking forward to getting the first progeny from her into the sales ring. That’s what we are about, so that is going to be pretty exciting too.”
Bowen’s Brogden Lodge has been a common sight at the annual Karaka yearling sales, however, his breeding operation has taken a step back in the last couple of years due to the demand of his horse transport business, Brogden Transport.
“We have a yearling going through the sales next year out of Ranfurly Brogden,” Bowen said.
“That’s the only one we have bred. We have pinhooked a couple as well, we do a bit of that from time-to-time if we can see the right type of horse.
“We have got a horse transport business now and that has turned out to be a fairly busy lifestyle. We have had to scale back, we have reduced our acreage too, so we have only got a small property now.”
Bowen is also kept busy by his new role as President of Waikato-BOP Harness and he said he is enjoying his new role and is excited about the future of the club.
“It was a little bit unfortunate that Rob Lawson stepped aside, but I’m having a turn there,” he said.
“We have got an excellent team, headed by Dave Branch. They are just high energy people and I think they have turned Cambridge Raceway around in terms of a venue, they are doing a great job.
“We are also looking forward to the Jewels. Now that the team has had one Jewels under their belt I think they will make a very good job of the 2020 Jewels. I am really excited about what that event is going to be.” – Cambridge Raceway