Central Otago Cup sets up as staying test

By Jonny Turner

Wild Southern weather kept the Central Otago Cup from being held at Omakau and it is now set to have an impact on its re-rerunning at Winton on Wednesday.

For the second consecutive year, the group 3 feature will be held away from its home base when a small but highly talented field does battle over 2400m.

Recent rain and the prospect of more arriving on race day could turn the event into a test of stamina.

And while that would ordinarily be good news for Nathan Williamson and Pembrook’s Playbook the trainer-driver is approaching Wednesday’s race with a touch of caution.

“He is fresh and he had a nice trial but he did miss the benefit of having a race when Omakau was called off.”

“He will benefit from the run and he should be spot on for the Invercargill Cup next week.”

“But in saying that I am very happy with him and he has had a lot of work.”

“And with the way the race looks like it could map he should get a nice wee run.”

“If he does I am sure he will be finishing off really well.”

Pembrook’s Playboy has a barrier draw advantage from gate 4 over his main rivals Henry Hubert (6), Vintage Cheddar (7) and Classie Brigade.

What Jim Curtin does from barrier 3 with Tango Tara and whether Craig Ferguson sets Robyns Playboy alight from barrier 5 is set to have a big impact on the shape of the Central Otago Cup and on where Pembrook’s Playboy lands early.

Rumours swept around Southland recently suggesting the province had seen the last of the Williamson-trained Ragazzo Mach, who was the subject of a big-money offer from West Australia.

The good news for southern racing fans and the southern industry is that the classy three-year-old is not leaving any time soon and he will be in action at Winton in race 11.

Ragazzo Mach comes into the 2400m mobile event after producing a stunning win in the Wairio Cup, last month.

Drawing barrier 8 means the colt may need to show the same kind of class to win again.

Only this time it will be his stamina, rather than his speed that will be tested,

“He had a nice trial last week and he is pretty forward,” Williamson said.

“It will be new for him starting out there and it will be a testing track with the rain we have had.”

“The conditions are not going to be ideal for a relatively inexperienced three-year-old.”

“But as we have probably seen he is good enough to do it.”

“It will be interesting to see how he handles it all, but I am very happy with him and he is pretty forward to run a pretty big race.”

Love On The Rocks, who ran a cracking race when third behind Ragazzo Mach in the Wairio Cup, looks the main threat to him in race 11.

Williamson lines up two maiden trotters from his stable in race 1.

Stable junior driver Oliver Kite will drive Sunday Invasion, who looks a big winning chance from barrier 3 in the mobile event.

Williamson will drive Mitre Peak, who will start from barrier four on the second line if the race’s two emergencies are scratched.

“From the draw, Sunday Invasion looks the stronger hope of the two.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if Mitre Peak won if she got the right sort of run into it.”

“She is the type of horse that needs the mobile, she played up badly at Gore and she is probably going to benefit from racing.”


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