Watch Me Now wins Group One in her last race in New Zealand.

Watch Me Now wins Group One in her last race in New Zealand.

Bruce Stewart

13th February 2021

Last night’s premier racing at Addington will long be remembered by those of us in the south.

There was great excitement when having her last race in New Zealand, Southern mare Watch Me Now upset hot favourite Amazing Dream in the $102,000 Group One Breeders Stakes.

Kirstin Barclay and Watch Me Now – Photo Race Images

Driver Kirstin Barclay schooled Watch Me Now off the gate from a wide draw and took the lead just after the winning post, before handing up to hot favourite Amazing Dream.

Inside the last 400 metres Amazing Dream, Watch Me Now and Need You Now broke away from the field. On straightening Amazing Dream and Watch Me Now set down for a stride by stride battle with Barclay throwing everything at the Southern mare to get her up to win by a head.

“Everything went to plan for once. You’re always hopeful that you can beat mares like her but you don’t expect to,” Barclay said.

The time of 3-07.2 was a new New Zealand record, bettering The Orange Agent’s previous record of 3-07.4. The last 800 metres was run in 55.1.

Watch Me Now getting the better of Amazing Dream – Photo Race Images

“She was travelling well all the way. She was bang on ready.”

Owned by the Sloan and Gibb families, the mainstream public were unaware the Breeders Stakes was to be her last race in New Zealand, as she had recently been sold to American interests.

“It was bitter sweet and pretty emotional. It’s a bit heart breaking really but she’ll do a massive job over there.”

The winning crew – Photo Race Images

It was by far Barclay’s biggest race day win in her twenty two years of driving. She has previously won a Listed race on U May Cullect and the Group Three Kindergarten Stakes driving El Nino.

It was also the first Group win for Watch Me Now’s Oreti Beach training partnership of Barclay and Tank Ellis.

“We’ve liked her from day one. Kerry O’Reilly broke her in and said she was a nice horse.”

Southland mares have a great record in the race. Bonnies Chance won it three times in 1980s, Shortys Girl won in 2002 and 2003 and Tact Lizzie won at long odds of 63-1 in 2010.

Meanwhile Pembrook Playboy underlined his rising status at last night’s meeting, taking the next step and winning the Group Three Coca Cola Summer Cup. He beat last year’s New Zealand Cup winner Self Assured by the barest of margins.

Williamson secured the trail behind pacemaker The Fixer and the entire ran up the passing lane and held out Self Assured by a nose.

“I heard Matt Cross say that I got there, but I wasn’t really sure because I couldn’t see that other horse. Were absolutely rapt,” said Williamson.

Pembrook Playboy gets up on the inside – Photo Race Images

Williamson took his horses north midweek and he said Pembrook Playboy didn’t travel that well.

“He’s bit of the bugger not to settle in. He gets a bit worked up when he’s away. He’s good at home as he knows his routine. He seemed a little bit more settled tonight. He’s doing a bit of travelling coming up so we hope that’ll be the making of him.”

Pembrook Playboy and Nathan Williamson – Photo Race Images

Prior to last nights Group Three Williamson made sure the Bettor’s Delight entire had his mind on the job, giving him a sharp section in his warm up.

“He travelled pretty keenly in the running and was definitely focused, and he dug in well at the finish. When the money is handed out it’s a good habit to get into.”

Although last night’s win was up there as a career highlight Williamson said winning the Invercargill Cup is still at the top of the list.

At the conclusion of last night’s meeting in Christchurch Williamson was travelling south to Oamaru for the night. It would be an early start to get back home and then into Invercargill for the Riverton Meeting at Ascot Park today.

Williamson said last night, “We’ll get him home and get him on the green grass. He tucked up a bit on this trip. We’ll set him for the Northern Southland Cup. I might have him at the Riverton Meeting (4th March) as there’s a Free for All which could be a good leadup.”

It was the Bettor’s Delight four year olds eighth career win from fifteen starts and his third in a row.

The win elevates him to second behind Copy That in the Four Year Old Diamond for the end of season Harness Jewels.

Also at last night’s meeting the Williamson trained Ragazzo Mach ran a gallant second in a high quality R57-R75 pace – a race that included a few New Zealand Derby aspirants.

After covering extra ground he came on strongly at the end of the 1980 metre race and got within three quarters of a length of favourite It’s All About The Faith.

“He went a great race. He was working the whole way. It was a slick time and he certainly wasn’t disgraced.”

Williamson trained trotter Dark Horse also had to settle for second, beaten by Muscle Mountain by half a length.

“I think she wasn’t quite at her best without taking anything away from the winner. It was a phenomenal run. He’s the new kid on the block and was pretty impressive.”

It’s proving to be a pretty successful season for southern trained horses which we would expect would be reflected at the Sales this week.