Miss Jessica rewarded with trip to Addington

By Jonny Turner

An outstanding front-running display at Winton yesterday has propelled Miss Jessica into the spotlight of premier racing at Addington.

The gritty trotting mare outstayed her rivals to continue her excellent recent form, courtesy of a daring drive from Tom Nally.

The win has booked Miss Jessica’s ticket to Addington next Friday night to compete in a final of HRNZ’s Racing Rewards Series.

It means trainer Tim Robertson now gets the added bonus of looking forward to lining up his first runner at New Zealand’s premier harness racing venue on top of the thrill of winning at Winton.

“I’m over the moon,” Robertson said.

“She’s qualified for the Winter Rewards series, so we will go up there and give it a crack.”

“If nothing else she is honest, so we will head up there and see what she’s got.”

Miss Jessica produced patchier form in 2022 before starting 2023 with a bang by running to an emphatic victory on Northern Southland Cup day.

Robertson adopted aggressive driving tactics in that win and Nally again used a similar approach when driving the mare to her front-running victory yesterday.

Thanks to those new tactics and a change to her training, Miss Jessica has been in brilliant form this year.

“I basically just think it is the way we are driving her and her age,” Robertson said.

“We got an email from the breeder and he said the breed get better with age.”

“We have eased off on the training, we used to go a bit aggressive on the training, but she is older now so once she’s fit she’s raring to go.”

Though Robertson generally drives his own horses, Nally will retain the drive behind Miss Jessica at Addington next week.

The junior driver’s victory with the trotter took him to 15 career wins which allows him to drive at premier meetings.

Later on the Winton card, Bluto announced himself as a horse with a future when beating a quality maiden field in race 7.

The pacer is raced by trainer Graeme Anderson, along with Brian Sceats, but he’s trained by Brent and Tim White.

White and Anderson have struck up a great combination in recent seasons taking on each other’s horses and it continued when Bluto sped to victory for driver Sarah O’Reilly.

“He is a real nice horse, I expected him to go pretty well,” White said.

“But then I got down here and heard the raps on [some of the others] and I wasn’t as confident as I was when I left Canterbury.”

“But Sarah drove him super and he got the job done.”

White said he won’t make any immediate plans for the horse until Bluto’s owners deal with some serious interest from potential buyers.

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