By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
She Reigns made a statement at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday night ahead of her tilt at a couple of mares’ stakes races next month.
The Graeme Rogerson-trained five-year-old blew her opposition away when winning the Bayleys Coromandel Cambridge Gold Cup (Qual) Hanidcap Trot (2200m) comfortably by 5-3/4 lengths.
The daughter of Monarchy began well from her back mark of 35m and navigated her way around a few early breakers. She then sat parked for the majority of the race before she dashed past pacemaker The Last Gamble with 500m to go and continued to extend her lead on her rivals.
She distanced her competitors in the straight and gave driver Dylan Ferguson the opportunity to pay homage to former trainer and Harness Racing New Zealand chairman Pat O’Brien, who passed away recently.
“I grew up around Pat and Mike’s stable, with Dad being their stable driver around the Central Districts races,” Ferguson said.
“When I got my license, I was very lucky to get a few drives for them and I actually won a country cups race on Pat’s own mare, Beckinsale, in my first season of driving.
“It was great to wear that black armband in honour of him, and to get a win was even better.”
Ferguson, who is also Rogerson’s stable foreman, was pleased with the dominant win ahead of her tilt at the Gr.3 Waikato Trotting Breeders’ Stakes (2700m) at Cambridge Raceway on Waitangi Day.
“It was a pretty good effort from her, fresh-up from a month to six weeks away. She did that very well,” he said.
“I just thought she was just a hard run short of being at peak fitness, fingers-crossed I am right and she is going to improve off the back of that for next week for the Waikato Breeders’ Stakes.”
The race was awarded Group Three status in just its second running by Harness Racing New Zealand, and Ferguson said there needs to be more stakes opportunities for trotting mares on the trotting calendar.
“For trotters especially, they need to have a lot more races for their own sex,” Ferguson said.
“They don’t have many opportunities to race for good money and for that black-type status without racing the colts and geldings.
“It is good to get another one on the calendar and hopefully there can be another couple of more added in the future.
“That’s awesome to get the Group Three status for the race this year, so fingers-crossed we might be the first ones to take out the first black-type version of it."
All going to plan, She Reigns will then head to Alexandra Park at the end of next month to contest the Gr.3 Sims Pacific Metals Northern Trotting Stakes (2700m).
“There is another mares race at the end of February, so we are just trying to pick up a black-type win against her own sex,” Ferguson said.
“There are only two of them a year, so we have set her for these two races.”
Stablemate High Point will join She Reigns at Cambridge Raceway’s meeting next Saturday where she will contest the Cambridge Pacers Gold Cup Final (2700m) after finishing runner-up in the second qualifying heat at the Waikato track on Thursday.
“High Point went really well,” Ferguson said. “Her standing start manners put her in the right spot to feature and she ran a creditable second. She will be in the Gold Cup next week.”