Plenty of Emotion in Dark Horses Win

Plenty of Emotion in Dark Horse’s Win

Bruce Stewart

27th August 2020

“I’m lost for words,” an emotional trainer driver Nathan Williamson said after Dark Horse won at Ascot Park today. It was unreal.”

It truly was one of the great comeback stories.

Dark Horse warming up – Photo Bruce Stewart

“She’s had two suspensory (injuries). Ross Jones (father in-law) was walking her every day. We did the rehab one hundred percent right the way through.”

It was the eight year old mare’s tenth win. She last won at Tuapeka in October 2017 – twenty two months ago, and had last raced in March finishing second to Pres The Belle in the Group Three Southern Lights at the Northern Southland meeting.

“You always worry first up – no workouts no trials. She’s just unreal.”

Today in the Brendan Franks Farrier Handicap Trot Dark Horse stayed at the back of the field for most of the journey. Inside the last 500 metres she started to get a cart into the race on the back of In Sequence but that horse broke rounding the last bend.

“I was jogging at the 400, I got checked really badly and it probably cost me about four lengths. She just picked up after that and just did it easy really.”

Dark Horse came down the middle of the track to win easily by a length and a quarter from Rydgemont Milly.

“Look at her go. Dark Horse – she has gone wooshca giving them wind burn off the fifty (metres), wow,” called commentator Justin Evans.

Williamson was seen to give a little satisfying fist pump as the mare came down to the line.

An emotional Nathan Williamson with Dark Horse at the end of her tenth win – Photo Bruce Stewart

Today’s win was testimony to the outstanding skills of her trainer. To have her relatively match fit for a season debut off fifty metres and win with her ear plugs still in was exceptional.

“It’s a bit emotional really. She’s the best horse I’ve ever had and as good as anything I’ve ever driven and I’ve been lucky to have driven some good ones. I was just so gutted when she broke down and then had another injury. I thought she was never going to come back. I followed the vets’ advice. Brendon Bell initially, then Guy Alexander who’s a part owner. Brendon recommended that I send her to Guy for some extra treatment.”

Members of the Griffins and Seafield Trotting Syndicate – Photo Bruce Stewart

I personally remember interviewing Nathan’s father Phil three years ago and asking him if he had another Dominion Handicap horse in the stable and he said “No but my son has.”

The win capped off three great months when trotters trained by the Williamson family, Phil, Brad and Nathan were the stars of lockdown racing in the south. We’ve been lucky to see Cracker Hill, Ultimate Stride, Chinese Whisper and now Dark Horse win in the province.

Meanwhile star Southland pacer Robyns Playboy proved how potent he is as a frontrunner when he beat up ten rivals in the main pace of the day.

After beginning well driver Craig Ferguson took the Shadow Play gelding to the top and there he stayed running a new track and Southland record of 3-19.8 for the 2700 metre stand with his last 800 metres cut out in 56.7. The previous record, recorded in 2015 of 3-20.1, was held by Isaiah. The New Zealand record of 3-17.2 is held by Triple Eight.

Robyns Playboy easily winning again for Craig Ferguson – Photo Bruce Stewart

Returning to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart

Harness fans in the south are starting to get excited with the pending return of U May Cullect and Pembrook Playboy and the possibility of all three squaring off against each other.