Pembrook Playboy edges Watch Me Now for Southland HOY

By Jonny Turner

Pembrook Playboy topped Group 1 winner Watch Me Now to be crowned Southland Harness Horse Of The Year last night.

The Southland Harness Racing Awards were unable to be held for the second consecutive year because of Covid, leading to the winners being announced online without too much pomp and ceremony.

Pembrook Playboy and Watch Me Now both enjoyed standout seasons with Pembrook Playboy winning a swag of cup races and Watch Me Now becoming the first Southland horse to win a Group 1 race in more than a decade.

Ultimately the judges settled on Pembrook Playboy as the big winner among the 2021 award categories.

Pembrook Playboy’s stellar season included Group 3 wins in the Central Otago, Summer, Invercargill and Northern Southland Cups.

The four-year-old’s trainer-driver Nathan Williamson was also recognised with the Southland Achievement Of The Year Award.

Among an incredible 12 months, Williamson trained the most winners in a season in Southland history and won his 13th Southland driving premiership.

Williamson drove the 50th win in the career of trainer Brent McIntyre who was also recognised among the Southland Harness Racing Awards.

McIntyre was thrust into the spotlight when named the winner of the Contribution to Southland Harness Racing Award.

McIntyre admits he is much more comfortable out on the farm or on the training track rather than having his name up in lights.

“It is very humbling and it came as a big surprise,” McIntyre said.

“The game has been very good to me and I have loved every minute of it.”

“There are some great people in it and meeting them and having a beer with them is the best part about it.”

“I have made some great friends and had plenty of thrills.”

“It is not really my thing awards like this, talking yourself up, I try to stay out of the spotlight.”

“But I am very grateful.”

McIntyre has a long list of achievements in harness racing spread over more than three decades.

McIntyre and former neighbours Steve and Claire Sloan bred Mach N Elle, who has gone on to leave Group 1 winner, New Zealand record holder and Southland Horse Of The Year contender Watch Me Now.

He and wife Sheree took over the running of Macca Lodge in 2008.

The farm plays a vital role in the Southland harness racing industry, overseeing the breeding of around 350 standardbred mares each year, which represents a significant portion of New Zealand’s foal crop.

McIntyre’s friends and clients John and Judy Stiven took out the Southland Broodmare Of The Year award with Southwind Arden.

The Bettor’s Delight mare is the dam of Harness Jewels winner and leading New Zealand Cup contender South Coast Arden.

The full Southland Harness Racing Awards winner’s list can be viewed at https://southernharness.co.nz/southland-harness-awards-2021/#more-14003

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