For the second consecutive year trainers Graeme Rogerson and Dylan Ferguson have taken out the Dunstan Cambridge Raceway Horse of the Year title.
Last year the Hamilton trainers won their first title courtesy of She Reigns, and stablemate Funny Face was able to hold onto a two-point margin buffer to take out the 2021/22 edition.
The daughter of Peak joined the barn in August last year and immediately made an impact, winning fresh-up for the stable over 2200m at Cambridge Raceway in September.
She had a further seven starts, all at Cambridge Raceway, winning three races and finishing runner-up in another outing, sealing back-to-back series victories for the barn.
“She deserved it, she has raced well all season,” Ferguson said. “She won in the first meeting of the season and the second to last. She has done a good job this year.
“Once she started to put things together she got better with every start. That has been the key to her last couple of starts – her manners have been a lot better.
“Hopefully she is going to keep getting better as she gets older with a bit more experience.”
Ferguson was particularly pleased with her last start fresh-up victory at Cambridge Raceway, which cemented the title for the mare.
“She has always raced pretty well fresh, that is why we have spaced her races a little bit. It was a pretty good effort last start in a good time,” he said.
While pleased with the win, Ferguson admitted to being a little bit frustrated that Funny Face was unable to contest the last meeting of July at the Waikato track.
“It was a bit frustrating that they programmed her out of racing at the last meeting, so had she got beaten it would have been annoying. It was lucky for us that she held on,” Ferguson said.
The stable also picked up third place in the series courtesy of Delson (34), who posted four consecutive wins at Cambridge Raceway before heading across the Tasman to further his racing career.
“I thought he was going to hang on (to win Horse of the Year), he was in front for quite a while,” Ferguson said.
“Being in Australia he was no chance of getting more points, so it was a case of seeing if anyone could overtake him. Luckily it was one of our other horses.
“He did a good job for a couple of months where he won four in a row. It was good to see him feature right up the top as well.”
Sandwiched between the pair on 35 points was the Arna Donnelly-trained Aflyin Spur.
The Cambridge Raceway trainer also finished runner-up last year with The Banker, and Ferguson said he has been enjoying the rivalry between the two stables.
“We are probably two of the biggest stables in the Waikato at the moment. We have both got nice horses in our barn and that has showed in the Horse of the Year over the last couple of years where we have both featured prominently,” he said.
As the winner of the series, Funny Face’s owner Allen Christiansen will receive $4,000, while Ferguson and Rogerson will receive a $3,000 product prize to go along with their $1,000 product prize for training third-placed Delson.
Donnelly will receive a $2,000 product prize for training runner-up Aflyin Spur.
Ferguson is looking forward to the future with Funny Face and is setting his sights on some lofty targets if she performs well at Cambridge Raceway’s next meeting.
“She is probably going to run at Cambridge on the 11th (of August) and then we will use that as the decider if we take her down south for a couple of fillies and mares races in October,” he said. – Cambridge Raceway