Ladies kick off Oaks night with a pair of wins


In a fitting start to Northern Oaks night, the North Island’s two most successful female drivers reined home the first two winners on the card.

And both Nicky Chilcott and Michelle Wallis wore the teal pants as part of the national fundraising and awareness effort for the Women’s Cancer Foundation.

Chilcott did the business in the opening race with the mare she trains, Juice Brogden, who sat parked for the last lap and proved too strong for a field of male pacers.

There was a stroke of luck when the leader and hot favourite, Aloka, galloped at the 600-metre mark but Chilcott reckoned that it probably hindered her mare rather than helped her.

“It probably would have been better if she had the horse inside her to keep her mind on the job, because when she found the front she started switching off and flicking her ears,” she said.

Regardless, the win was recorded and Chilcott was thrilled to have the daughter of Bettor’s Delight back in winning form on premier night.

“I was a little bit disappointed with her last run but I found a couple of little things that weren’t quite right.

“It’s fair to say I would have been pretty disappointed if she hadn’t gone well tonight.”

The win will likely prompt Chilcott and connections to pay the $2875 late fee to enter next Friday night’s $40,000 Northern Mares Classic, which has conditions to exclude Group 1 or six-figure race winners.

“The Jewels is the ultimate goal, but we might make the late payment for that race next week now.”

Billy At Salsa has been a problem child to this point in his career, showing plenty of ability but a penchant for galloping late in his races.

Wallis and husband Bernie Hackett leased him off a frustrated Barry Purdon last year and they now have a $10,700 winning stake as reward.

Wallis says she couldn’t back him with stolen money, but that didn’t stop some smart punters piling in to the horse, as he shortened in to $10.50 with bookies from an opening quote of $15.

“When I was warming up I looked at the board and it said he was paying something like $9 to win and $5 to place and I thought what idiot has backed him?” said Wallis

The money was smart, ultimately, though Billy At Salsa’s supporters, like Wallis, will have been holding their breath down the straight as he lurched in to the reckoning from a position four back on the markers.

“I was just sitting there trying to hold him together.

“It’s the main reason I notified that I wouldn’t carry a whip because if you have one there is an obligation to use it.

“And the moment I use the whip on him he will probably gallop.”

It’s ‘baby steps’ with the son of Majestic Son, who Wallis thinks can probably win a fair few more if his manners stay in check.

“Ability-wise he can go a wee way, it just depends on his manners and the handicapper.”

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