Playboy Off To The Big Dance

Playboy Off To The Big Dance

Bruce Stewart

25th October 2020

“Good manners won it for him today. He made the handicap half of what it should have been,” co-trainer Ross Wilson commented after Robyns Playboy won the Dan Cummings Memorial Tuapeka Cup – keeping his New Zealand Cup aspirations alive.

Robyns Playboy – File

From the thirty metre handicap the Shadow Play five year old began like a bullet and was soon up challenging for the lead.

“It made it for us when Brett Gray’s horse (Memphis Tennessee) galloped. Because if it had gone to the front it was going to be impossible for us to make up the ground.”

From that point driver Craig Ferguson had designs on taking up the pacemaking role.

“He hasn’t had the enthusiasm (recently) when coming from behind and passing them, which he used to have.”

At the finish Robyns Playboy had a neck to spare on Deus Ex.

“Even though it got close at the finish Craig said he was waiting on the other horse. He said he couldn’t pull him up after the line. He took off again.”

The winning time of 3-21.7 was 0.3 seconds outside the race record Robyns Playboy set last season when he won the Cup as a four year old.

Earlier in the week Wilson told Southern Harness Website the gelding had become a bit ho hum in his training so he and son and training partner Chris had decided to work him a bit harder.

“Normally he only has a couple of runs before his race but we’ve been hoppling him every third day since his last start. He seems a bit sharper.”

Today’s win was Robyns Playboys third this season from just five starts, and Wilson says he’s a totally different horse this time in.

“He wasn’t right last season, he had a weepy eye which indicated he had a virus so he was only 90 per cent right. He’s just a different horse this year because he’s healthy.”

While most of the New Zealand Cup candidates chose to race in the Ashburton Flying Stakes as the more traditional Cup lead up, but Wilson said they’d preferred to take a different path.

“I thought it was a bit silly going to Ashburton and getting a hiding from those good guys when we could go to Tuapeka and maybe win the race. It wasn’t going to make any difference on whether we were going to run in the Cup or not.”

Robyns Playboy won’t start again before next month’s Group One pacing feature and all the work leading into the $540,000 classic will be done at home.

“We’ll just prepare him as though it’s another race because it’s only two weeks and a few days which is the same gap as he’s had in all his races. With a galloping pacemaker we can really sharpen him up.”