Playboy on the front cover

Playboy on the front cover

Bruce Stewart

21st January 2021

Although it’s early days, the race is on for the Southland Horse of the Year title and Pembrook Playboy continues to stake his claim for the prestigious award that will be announced at the end of the season.

With the likes of Vintage Cheddar, Watch Me Now and rising star Ragazzo Mach also in the frame, the Group Three win in the Central Otago Trotting Cup run at Winton yesterday was an important step for Pembrook Playboy in order to be in the frame for the title.

Pembrook Playboy warming up with rival Vintage Cheddar

The pacing feature at the Winton track yesterday for the second time in as many years, was not held at Omakau.

Unfortunately the Ricky May incident halted the feature last year and this year the Omakau meeting was abandoned because of heavy rain.

Yesterday’s Cup wasn’t without a small dollop of drama either,  as Pembrook Playboy cast a shoe and had to be reshod before the start.

Being reshod

“He handled that well. He was better out there than he is here (stables) because he can get worked up around other horses,” said trainer driver Nathan Williamson.

Once underway Pembrook Playboy showed he was in the zone early.

“The plan wasn’t to go forward. He was quite keen off the gate.”

The Robert Dunn trained pair Henry Hubert and Classie Brigade took up the early running with Henry Hubert taking the lead and Classie Brigade slotting into the trail.

“We got squeezed up early and ended up three back. I always knew we were going to get a good run behind Classie Brigade.”

Henry Hubert leads with Pembrook Playboy three back on the inside with a lap to run

Inside the last 400 metres the small field was compressed with runners starting to improve around the outside and Pembrook Playboy was shuffled back to last on the inside.

“I thought Classie was just going to shoot through but he just went through the gap okay. I really wanted to follow him through and come off his back.”

Williamson followed Classie Brigade through but had to wait for a tiring Henry Hubert before getting a clear run to the finish line. By that stage it looked as if Classie Brigade and Watch Me Now were going to fight out the finish with most of the crowd and the course commentator thinking Classie Brigade had the win.

“I just got out so late. I wasn’t sure whether I got there but it was good – we got the money.”

Pembrook Play was coming so fast the winning margin ended up being a half a head.

Pembrook Playboy (middle) coming late and fast

A closer look

The win was the four year old entire’s seventh in fourteen starts and the most important to date for Invercargill owner Chris Alcock.

“You couldn’t get a better owner. We’ve had our setbacks like you do with horses and it’s never been a problem.”

Williamson with owner Chris Alford (right) and his daughter Justine

Williamson says the Invercargill Cup at the end of the month and the Summer Cup at Addington are the next targets for the Better’s Delight entire.

Later in the programme exciting three year old Ragazzo Mach blitzed a field of R56 and R70 pacers, winning the Fairbairn Plumbing Mobile Pace by nine and three quarter lengths.

Owned by Neville Cleaver the son of Mach Three ran the 2400 metre mobile on an easy track in 2-58.2. In his first season of racing for Nathan Williamson he’s won five of his six starts.