Hannon next for Pembrook Playboy
By Jonny Turner
Classy four-year-old Pembrook Playboy earned himself a shot at the big leagues with a highly impressive effort to down a classy field at Winton on Thursday.
The Nathan Williamson trained and driven pacer left his opposition with few excuses when powering to his emphatic victory after sitting parked for the last 1000m of the meeting’s 2400m feature handicap.
Racing’s hiatus during the national COVID 19 lockdown robbed Pembrook Playboy of the chance to test himself against the country’s best 3yr-olds when the New Zealand Derby was not held.
Though disappointing, it gave the chance for the pacer to recharge with a short break, which he has emerged from bigger and stronger.
“He is a nice horse and he always has been,” Williamson said.
“I wasn’t sure he was up to the U May Cullects and those horses going in to today.”
“But I never thought he was inferior to Spirit Of St Louis and I had seen the job he had done recently.”
“And I knew he was a heck of a lot better for his break over the lockdown.”
Spirit Of St Louis was third, behind Pembrook Playboy and runner-up Memphis Tennessee, in yesterday’s race after beginning slowly from his 20m back mark.
U May Cullect finished last of eight runners in his return from injury after a year away from the races.
The popular pacer pulled up well, looking like his fitness levels would derive plenty of benefit from the outing.
Pembrook Playboy has come back in such good order Williamson has nominated him for the New Zealand Cup.
A start in next weekend’s Hannon Memorial will give the trainer-driver a line on whether the Addington feature is an achievable goal for the horse.
“I have nominated him for the New Zealand Cup, even though it is definitely a year too soon.”
“The Southern Supremacy [Stakes] is his main goal, but I just thought he could go to the Hannon and treat it as an introduction to the big time.”
“I could drive him conservatively against the good ones and see if he is up to it and it will give us a good idea of whether he is up to going to the [New Zealand] Cup.”
Pembrook Playboy showed both the kind of staying qualities and high speed that top level racing requires in yesterday’s win.
The Bettor’s Delight stallion reeled off a fast 27.5sec last 400m on a wet Winton track, which was not producing fast times.
“He was pretty professional, when Spirit Of St Louis was on my back I thought this would be interesting,” Williamson said.
“Because he has got high speed and I knew my fellow is pretty quick as well.”
“He sprinted up really well.”
Pembrook Playboy’s win is the second impressive training performance Williamson has produced with a fresh up runner within two weeks.
In an incredible effort, Dark Horse won her first start for over five months from a 50m handicap at Ascot Park last month.