News

A week of change

By Matt Markham Twitter: @MattMarkham07

Life has been more than just a little bit different for Amber Hoffman and Jonny Cox this week.

Their successful training partnership officially ended last Saturday, Hoffman took sole charge of all the horses and Cox relocated himself to Christchurch to take up a role at West Melton with Ken Barron.

But on Friday night at Addington, the two will combine for what could potentially be a big night at the office.

Hoffman has smart pacing mare, New Years Jay engaged in the Group One PGG Wrightston New Zealand Breeders Stakes and also Jaccka Justy in the main lead up race to next week’s Group One New Zealand Trotting Championship and Cox is on board both.

And both have a royal chance at winning based on two sensational trial performances at Gore last week.

New Years Jay ripped past Pulp Fiction and Sheeza Shark in a last 800 metres in 54.9 seconds, her first public outing following her 1:54 mile at Ashburton early in February.

“It was perfect for what she needed,’’ Cox said.

“I never asked her to run, she did it all on her own with the ear plugs in.

“The run will have blown all the cobwebs out hopefully and have her pretty ready for this week.

“Amber has been really happy with her since too.”

Drawn up at barrier six in the Group One, Cox is keen to take his time with the mare in hope of unleashing her devastating speeding at the end of the 2600 metre event.

With Venus Serena drawn barrier three and looking likely to dominate from the top, Cox is hoping there enough pressure in the race to give them the best chance at victory.

“I certainly don’t want to be the first horse moving around them, it’s just a case of hoping I can get onto the right horses back.

“I think she is good enough to sit parked and still give them plenty to think about but our best chance to win is by coming off the speed with one run at them.’’

The mind-set of drivers and trainers around the Group One has changed significantly in the past month.

The retirement of Adore Me as well as Helena Jet has left the door wide open for someone to step up and take the throne.

“It’s completely different to what we expected it to be with Adore Me not being there.

“It certainly makes it a lot more even and gives a lot more horses a chance at winning a Group One.’’

Jaccka Justy hasn’t been sighted since he ran second to Kincaslough last month, but his 56.5 second last 800 to win at Gore last week was just as impressive as his stable mate’s,

On the fresh side for this week with an aim on being on song for next week’s NZ Trotting Championship, there is improvement in the horse but Cox feels there is a chance his speed might be a big assist this week.

“It won’t be easy for him and he will be a better horse next week, but last week he showed he’s probably ready enough to run a good race.

“Amber says she has been happy with him this week too, so he’ll get his chance.’’

Master Lavros also returns in the trot, which is bound to create plenty of interest while up and coming trotter Alley Way will be looking to continue his good run of form.