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Class prevails at Cambridge

By Duane Ranger – Twitter: @DuaneRanger

A flying filly and a brilliant two-year-old stole the show at Cambridge on Sunday.

The Bunty Hughes trained and Maurice McKendry driven The Orange Agent never got out of second gear when winning the fifth Nevele R Fillies heat.

The gifted daughter of American Ideal set a new 3-year-old fillies track record when stopping the clock in 2:38.31. That time was just outside the New Zealand and track record time of 2:37.71 set by Follow The Stars on January 19 this year.

With only four in the field The Orange Agent won by more than five lengths sprinting her final 800m and 400m sectionals in 54.8 and 27.7. Her winning mile rate was 1:55.7. It was her first start at Cambridge Raceway and she has now won nine of her 14 starts.

The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Lazarus was equally impressive in the first heat of the Garrards Sires Stakes pace for 2-year-olds.

The Bettor’s Delight colt and Tim Williams won by 1-3/4 lengths, pacing the 1700m mobile in 2:03.5 (mile rate: 1:56.8) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 56.6 and 27.3. It was his third win in four starts.

The Orange Agent and Lazarus paid $1.10 and $1.00 to win respectively.

Meanwhile former jockey, Sheryl Wigg says it’s definitely easier riding a galloping winner than it is driving a pacer to victory.

Six days after being granted her advanced amateur driving licence the 43-year-old Auckland horsewoman reined her first winner at her first start.

Her maiden victory came behind the Tim Vince trained With A Vengeance in the 11th race at the Harness Racing Waikato meeting on Sunday – the C1 to C3 Amateur Driving Pace.

Wigg, who rode two winners as a jockey, settled the 7-year-old son of McArdle in the trail behind favourite Bettors Card from his one draw. That’s where they remained until the home straight.

In the lane they had too much sprint for the favourite easily winning the 2200m mobile by 1-3/4 lengths in 2:43.5. Their winning mile rate was 1:59.6 and they sprinted their last 800m and 400m in 59.7 and 30.3. They were the seventh favourites of 13 and paid $21.50 to win.

“This is a real surreal feeling. I would have been happy just to get around safely. I won’t forget my first drive in a hurry. We got the run to suit and the horse did the rest. I’m thrilled,” Wigg said.

She said all the credit must go to Vince who was on the verge of retiring the bay gelding.

“The horse had horrendous trouble with stomach ulcers and Tim said this was his last chance. I think he only raced him so I could get a drive in an amateur race. I’m really grateful for that because he’s the brains behind the win,” Wigg said of her partner.

Vince deflected the praise back to Wigg.

“Sheryl has done all the hard yards with him. She’s out training the horse while I’m watching TV,” Vince said.

“I would have chucked the training game in if I hadn’t received tremendous support from Sheryl, ‘Bluey’ Smith, Roydon Downey, and Oliver Mackinnon. They have been exceptional and I owe a lot of my recent wins to them,” said Vince who trains three horses at Kumeu.

Wigg said she was looking forward to more driving and now hoped she would be the stable’s number one amateur.

Vince agreed.

“I just love training them these days. That’s where I get my biggest thrill. Watching Sheryl win on Sunday was one of my career highlights.

“Most people know I like a punt, and to be fair, I didn’t even rate the horse a winning chance. He got a lovely run and Sheryl did the rest. His retirement is on hold for now,” Vince said.