New Brighton harness racing owner Paul Thomas got the best birthday present that he could have wished for when his ‘pride and joy’ JC Skipper was victorious in a heat of the Young At Heart series at Addington on Friday.
“It’s quite ironic really because the final for the series is set to be run on my mother’s birthday,” said an ecstatic Thomas, who turned 59 on Friday.
Driven by Colin DeFilippi, JC Skipper worked around the field three wide down the back straight to find the parked position before racing clear on the home bend and narrowly fighting of a late challenge from the fast finishing Mighty Peruvian
Franco Revel, who downed JC Skipper in the first heat of the Young At Heart series, finished a further 2 & ¾ lenghts away in third.
The five-year-old black son of Julius Caesar paced the 1950 metre journey in a tidy 2:23.7 (1:58.5), with sectionals of 57.5 and 28.1.
JC Skipper, who won four races for Templeton trainer Peter Robertson, was transferred to the barn of Peter and Leonne Jones after having a failed campaign in the North Island with Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett.
“He is a handy enough horse but he has been plagued by some bad luck and bad draws in his racing,” said Thomas. “He seems to suit the shorter races. There is no reason he won’t be competitive in the final,” he added.
Thomas, who is a diesel mechanic by trade, is the son of the late Trevor Thomas, who trained numerous good horses in the 70s and 80s including top trotter Stormy Mourn and smart pacer Genesis.
JC Skipper, who is also co-owned by his breeder Peter Higinbottom, is the first horse that Thomas has raced as an owner.
Higinbottom has previously enjoyed good success with JC Skipper’s older half-brother George Skipper and also owns the smart type Cullect A Guinness, who was victorious in his debut at Blenheim back in January.
JC Skipper will compete in another heat of the Young At Heart Series on Fridau night before preparing for the $11,000 final.
By Mitchell Robertson