Pembrook Wins A Cracker Cup

Pembrook Wins A Cracker Cup

Bruce Stewart

13th March 2021

Today’s Group Three Northern Southland Cup was the most anticipated race of the Southern Harness season with Pembrook Play versus U May Cullect and a mix of other highly talented horses spicing up the action.

“I was really looking forward to the race. It was such a quality race and you think you have a really good horse. It became really tactical and exciting, yeah,” said winning driver Nathan Williamson after he won a race full of action and drama driving Pembrook Playboy.

The tension went to another level when a false start was declared and Robyns Playboy got the ten metre starting strand caught up in his legs.

“It built the anticipation a bit. You could see the horses getting worked up at the start.”

In take two, both U May Cullect and Pembrook Playboy began well with Pembrook Playboy settling fourth and U May Cullect last in the seven horse field.

When U May Cullect came forward with 1600 metres to run it forced Vintage Cheddar, Pembrook Playboy and Dadndave to come out. That left Pembrook Playboy in the one one with just over a lap to run but the action was about to go off the charts.

“I was travelling really well down the back and I heard U May Cullect coming. He came so quickly and by the time I came out we locked wheels. Once we got untangled we just accelerated.”

That move forced U May Cullect four wide and with an incredible burst of speed Pembrook Playboy was up challenging pacemaker Deus Ex in a flash and he had his head in front at the 400 metres.

On straightening Pembrook Playboy put four lengths on his closest rival Vintage Cheddar and the winning margin at the end was three and a quarter lengths.

“He’s just a great horse.”

Job done – Photo Bruce Stewart

Heading back to the stables, Williamson was congratulated by U May Cullect’s driver Kirstin Barclay.

“You were coming so quick down the back there I thought wow, wow,” Williamson said.

“I was trying to catch you napping,” Barclay replied (laughter).

Williamson was openly thrilled with the result and there were plenty of handshakes and hugs from family and friends.

“That’s why we do it. To drive horses in races like that. The Invercargill and Northern Southland Cups to me are as big as Group One races. It’s in your home province so it’s a proud moment when the horses win those races. The Northern Southland Club is such a great club.”

Winning driver close up – Photo Bruce Stewart

The winning time of 3-17.9 equalled the track and Southland record held by U May Cullect.

The time was also a new race record, smashing Isaiah’s 2015 time of 3-20.1.

“He did knock off today like he did in the Invercargill Cup.”

Pembrook Playboy has now won ten races from eighteen starts – six this season. He has an unbeaten record at Northern Southland meeting.

The win lifted his stakes to over $100,000 for owner Chris Alcock.

The final sectionals were; 56.7 seconds from the 800 metres and 28.2 from the 400.

Pembrook Playboy – winning connections – Photo Bruce Stewart

Paddy O’Brien was the last Southland trained horse to win the Northern Southland Cup in 2005.

Pembrook Playboy certainly looks on track for next month’s Easter Cup.