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As far as form for a maiden trot goes, She Reigns has the best you could hope for.
The problem? It’s from 16 months ago.
The daughter of Monarchy resumes as a four-year-old at Auckland on Friday night having missed her entire three-year-old campaign.
She was last seen at the Cambridge Harness Jewels in June of last year, where she finished mid-pack behind Enhance Your Calm.
But it’s her two prior starts that make for very nice reading – a pair of second placings behind last season’s likely 3YO Trotting Filly of the Year, Tickle Me Pink.
Dylan Ferguson is the stable foreman for trainer Graeme Rogerson and will drive She Reigns this week, and he’s expecting big things.
“I certainly think she’s the best horse in the race,” he told HRNZ.
“And while she’s not there for a gut-buster, she’s there to win and I’d like to think she’ll be very competitive.”
The maiden trot is being run over a mile and while She Reigns is drawn wide, that is far less important in this type of race.
“Knowing maiden trotters, we should be able to press forward and get an advantage over the ones that make mistakes,” said Ferguson.
From there, it should be a formality.
“She’s got a ton of speed and I think that will put her in good stead, not just this week but going forward.”
Her and Splitting Image actually set up a New Zealand record for Tickle Me Pink as a two-year-old.
“She might not have gone to the level of Tickle Me Pink, but I’ve got no doubt she’s improved a lot since then.”
Ferguson only got his hands on She Reigns in March after she returned to Rogerson from Australia.
She had been sent there by Rogerson and co-owners, Merv and Meg Butterworth, to race as a three-year-old from the stable of Kerryn Manning.
“I couldn’t tell you the extent of what she did over there, but she never raced and returned home with a very minor tendon issue.
“I think she had banged it and they thought it was best for her to be here where she could take advantage of the treadmill, the water walker and the pool.
“She’s been back in work five months and I’ve been very happy with her every step of the way.”
She Reigns has contested two workouts this time in and won them both, the most recent at Pukekohe last Saturday where she reeled in advanced trotter The Hulk with ease.
“I’m pretty happy with her.
“Soundness-wise, she’s faultless. Her blood was out after her first workout after what she showed on Saturday, I have no doubts she’s back to full health.”
Stablemate Splitting Image gives Rogerson and Ferguson a good second-stringer in the race.
She also missed her three-year-old season and has had two runs back this time for two placings, at Cambridge.
“The vets reckon she is lucky to be alive, let alone racing, after she had an issue with a knee.
“A bit of a miracle horse apparently, but she’s not quite up to the other filly.”
Ferguson also drives Rogerson’s two other chances on the night – Hey Good Looking in a maiden and High Point and a handy mares’ race.
“High Point is a bit outclassed in that race but the mile is her go and is a great starting point fresh-up.
“The other horse as had her chances to win one before and has been disappointing.
“I’d like to say she’s a good chance, but I’ve thought she was a winner before and been let down.”
Ferguson is eagerly awaiting 2020 when he and Rogerson will roll out some of their juveniles bought at the Karaka sales earlier this year, including the sale-topper, Challenger.
“I’d like to think we have a couple of early runners there. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the expensive one and he’s certainly at the top of the pecking order at this stage.”
Ferguson and partner Jo Stevens are two months into life as parents to daughter Grace, and he says it’s been pretty cruisy to date.
“She’s pretty well-behaved – we’ve been very lucky.
“I’m usually the one waking her up in the morning. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around.
“I guess it can only go one way from here.”