Six-year-old mare Presidential Jewel may have only started racing at the start of the season but she is more than making up for lost time.
The Roger Villiger-trained mare has won two of her 14 starts and placed on seven other occasions, including a last start third behind Pretty Majestic in the inaugural Waikato Trotting Breeders’ Stakes (2700m) at Cambridge Raceway last month.
That form was franked when Pretty Majestic subsequently won the Gr.3 Northern Trotting Stakes (2700m) at Alexandra Park on Friday, a race Villiger opted to bypass in favour of the Marsh Equine & Livestock Insurance Handicap Trot (2200m) at Cambridge Raceway on Wednesday.
“We were rapt with her run in the Breeders’ Stakes,” Villiger said. “It’s a big step up and if she beat a few home we would have been happy, but to go that close was a bonus.
“I can’t take much credit for her form. Barry Cullen helps us out and he does all the work with her.
“He seems to think she is best when her races are spaced a touch and those better horses at Auckland were only off 30m as opposed to 50m at Cambridge. So we elected to bring her back to Cambridge.”
Villiger is cautiously optimistic heading into Wednesday’s contest where Presidential Jewel will start behind the 10m mark with Joshua Dickie in the sulky.
“I would be rapt if she goes another good race,” he said. “She does look the form horse in the field on paper, but anything can happen in racing. You always need that bit of luck, it is never easy.
“She has been stepping away really well, albeit slowly at times, but last start she stepped the best she has ever done.”
Bred by the late John Coll, Presidential Jewel transferred to the care of Villiger a few years ago and he said he has taken a patient approach with the mare.
“We inherited her from John Coll when he got ill many years ago and racing her this season has been a whole lot of fun,” Villiger said.
“We just waited with her. She was just out in the paddock and she was the last one to come in. It has been a bit of a bonus really.”
While Villiger is expecting a bold showing from Presidential Jewel on Wednesday he is more reserved about his expectations with seven-win entire Count Landeck.
The eight-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight will contest the gavelhouse.com Mobile Pace (2200m) and Villiger said his performance will dictate his racing future.
“He went terrible last start. We have just freshened him a little bit, but to be honest he is coming to the end of it.
“He may still suit an amateur race, but this field looks a bit slick for him.
“We are just going to play it by ear with his next two or three starts and see what he does.” -HRNZ