Nutcracker Ferguson’s First Group Winner
13th March 2021
Young Wyndham trainer Craig Ferguson won his first Group race at Ascot Park today. However he was there neither to drive or watch Nutcracker win the Group Three Caduceus Club of Southland/Alabar Fillies Classic.
He had another important event – to be groomsman for an old school mate Rory McCall, so Nathan Williamson got the drive today.
Williamson made full use of the horse’s gate speed and took her straight to the front. With the lap to run the small field were just ambling past the winning post but the action amped up inside the last 800 metres with Anna Love steaming up on the outside to put pressure on Nutcracker.
Williamson still had a good handful of horse inside the last 400 metres but the diminutive Bettor’s Delight filly had to withstand the outside challenge of Anna Love. And Woodlea Beaver was coming at her on the inside, but she held on tenaciously to beat Woodlea Beaver by half a length.
Heading back a Group winner on debut – Photo Bruce Stewart
Nutcracker is out of the Christian Cullen mare Rockin Cullen. She was bred and is raced by Paul and Brendan Duffy.
“We were quietly confident but being a first starter we didn’t know which way it would go. Nathan held them up in the middle part of the race and that was the winning of the race. He got a cheap section there and she always has a bit of fight at the end,” Brendan said after the win.
Nutcracker with winning connections – Photo Bruce Stewart
Trained at Wyndham by Ferguson, Duffy said the stable has been happy with the filly’s progress leading into today’s debut.
“Everything he asked of her she kept doing. She kept improving at each trial and workout he gave her.”
Duffy said he’s not sure how many more races Nutcracker will have this season.
“We’ll just weigh it up. We’re not big on racing two year olds. You see a few fade away to nothing if you push them. She’s pretty small which may mean she may need a break soon but everything Craig has thrown at her she seems to be handling.”
Paul and Brendan have been breeding horses for a number of years and when they bought Rockin Cullen they were buying back into the famed Black Watch breed which was started by their family in Southland in the early 1900s.
“We’ve stuck at this for long enough and hopefully there’s going to be a return. We’ve had battlers here and there with the odd one being okay but she looks something else. We went to the accountant yesterday and he questioned why we race horses. But winning today may show him.”
Nutcracker is a sister to the highly talented Yorokobi who’s raced by the pair out of the Regan Todd’s stable. He’s won two of his eight starts.
Nutcracker was the first Southland horse to win the two year old feature since Beaudiene Bad Babe won it in 2008. The winning time was 2-50.3 with the last 800 metres run in 57.2 and 400 in 27.9. Woodlea Beaver was second, half a length back.