"Everyone's favourite" a popular winner at Winton
By Jonny Turner
Waikouaiti mare Jonique clinched a deserved victory with a tough performance to win one of yesterday’s Winter Rewards Finals at Winton.
Boosted stakes saw highly competitive racing amid cold and wet conditions at the last meeting before Southland and Otago’s winter harness racing hiatus.
Jonique capped consistent recent form when sustaining a big finish for driver Kerryn Tomlinson.
The mare hit the lead early in the run home before fighting off a line up of challengers to score
Jonique’s victory continued a successful association between trainer Amber Hoffman and Invercargill owners Leo and Gaye Enright.
While the mare also maintained her status as a Hoffman stable favourite.
“She is everyone’s favourite, she is such a wee character,” Hoffman said.
“We are just absolutely rapt for the horse and for Gaye and Leo.”
“They have been really, really loyal and it was a great drive by Kerryn.”
Hoffman previously prepared Jonique’s dam Shya for the Enrights.
Shya is a half-sibling to several good winners raced by the Invercargill couple, including Sayonara and Yokozuna.
“Shya only had five starts for three wins but she broke down when she was leading at Addington,” Leo Enright said.
“She never raced after that.”
The Amber Hoffman trained The Jaffa Express produced a mammoth effort to run second in to Gronkowski in another Winter Rewards Final.
The Jafa Express sat outside the winner Gronkowski, who also ran to a deserved victory for trainer Tyler Dewe and driver Rory McIlwrick.
Gronkowski had produced six placings in his seven starts since joining the Dewe stable in March.
The victory came in the pacer’s final run for Dewe, with the horse now joining Denis O’Connell’s Waikouaiti stable.
“He was privately sold before the race, it is the perfect result,” Dewe said.
“He has been Mr Consistent, he’s had eight starts for six placings and a win now.”
“It’s obviously a huge thrill to win the $20,000 final.”
Rory McIlwrick bagged his second Winter Rewards Final when Jordy pounced late to win.
Dewe has been the caretaker trainer of the pacer who is officially prepared by John McDermott.
“He is a little bit like Gronkowski, when they put their best foot forward they are quite formidable,” McIlwrick said.
“Full credit to Tyler, he’s got the team on the money on the big day.”
Brad Williamson also won two of yesterday’s Winter Rewards Finals.
Williamson drove the Phil Williamson trained Majestic Love to victory before Millwood Indie powered away from her rivals to score by an impressive nine lengths for trainer Tom Bamford.