I’m Watching You Tom
4th September 2020
In the tightest finish of the day eighteen year old junior reinsman Tom Nally drove his first winner at Ascot Park yesterday when I’m Watching You just got up to beat Matrika by a nose with another nose back to Bunter’s Dream.
I’m Watching You giving Tom Nally his first win – Photo Monica Toretto
“I thought KB (Kirstin Barclay) had got there but it was the other way round,” Nally said.
I’m Watching You, after drawing barrier one, ended up four back on the inside and his winning chances didn’t look great.
“I thought I was only going to be battling away in mid-field.”
At the 400 I’m Watching You was shuffled back to third last but Nally managed to get on the back of an improving Dallas Grimes. He still had a handful of horses straightening for the run home. With 200 metres to run and still five lengths from the leader, he pulled the ear plug and the four year old let down nicely to win in a very tight finish.
“When you give him a bit of free air he goes. It was a real thrill. There was a shiver down my back.”
Nally was elated with the win and when asked whether he’d sorted out a fancy salute, his reply was “No. It was only my fifth drive so I’m still figuring out how to drive the bloody things.”
Winning salute – Photo Monica Toretto
I’m Watching You is trained at Ryal Bush by Nally’s employer Hamish Hunter.
“He was very happy and he owned half the horse.”
Tom’s been working for the Hunter stable since he left school when he turned sixteen.
“I didn’t drive him at work this week but I drove him at the workouts last week, and he ran second. I was relatively confident by I didn’t realise I’d get that far back on the fence.”
Hamish Hunter drove as a junior back in the early 1970s and his first win came after one and a half seasons of driving.
Nally commented “I thought I’d take half a season before I clicked into it. It was very unexpected.”
Kirstin Barclay and Peter Hunter were the first two drivers to congratulate him, and his proud grandparents Vin and Jan Nally were in the stand to see the win.
“Nana and Da were there and were very happy and proud of me.”
Jan, Tom and Vin Nally – Photo Monica Toretto
Vin Nally is a well known breeder and owner and provided Tom with three of his first four drives at the races on Schnitzel Von Krum. Tom helped his grandad break in Schnitzel Von Krum as well as a number of other young horses and says there’s always been a bit of free advice from Nally senior.
“He does, (give advise) but I just about know more than him. That’ll get him going (laughter).”
Nally says he’s indebted to senior driver Matty Williamson for his advice and guidance.
“On race day he’s always good to talk to about horses and how they’re going. In the fillies and mares race Matty and I were having a good yarn the whole way round. We talked about the two horses we were driving and He’s Watching You and Foreforefiddle later on.”
Covid restrictions prevented Tom’s parents Anton and Racheal from being on-course but that didn’t stop the celebrations.
“I had a few beers at home with my parents and Vin. I’ve watched the race again about 1500 times.”
It was I’m Watching You’s second win from seventeen starts.
“He’s a nice wee horse and he’ll improve on the run.”
Nally says one horse to watch out for is an unqualified four year old called Heritage. He’s also by He’s Watching out of Remembrance and is owned by Graham and Jill Cooney.