Start crucial for Pembrook Playboy

By Jonny Turner

Finding a position in the first 100m of Thursday’s Group 3 Southern Supremacy Stakes at Ascot Park is set to be crucial for home town hero Pembrook Playboy.

The star Southland pacer’s quest to win his province’s flagship event for three-year-old colts and geldings got a little tricky when he drew barrier 1 on the second row of the mobile.

With no other horses on the second line, it may appear a simple case of trainer-driver having to Nathan Williamson angle Pembrook Playboy off the inside to avoid him getting stuck on the markers.

But Williamson is taking nothing for granted with group 3 honours and a $30,000 stake on the line.

“If the John Morrison on Racing Minister is easing back from [barrier] 2, it might be difficult for me to come off the fence and come out,” the trainer-driver said.

“It could be a little bit tricky, he could get pushed to the fence by those better horses and even if I was on his back I could still get eased down.”

“It is just going to be a little bit tricky over that first couple of hundred metres to get off the fence, because obviously I wouldn’t want to be five back on the inside.”

While the start maybe out of Williamson’s control, Pembrook Playboy’s condition has not been.

The trainer has the pacer exactly where he wants him after his two brilliant recent wins at Winton and Ascot Park.

“I gave him a quiet trial on Saturday and I was really happy with him,” Williamson said.

“He was second to Franco Santino, but he finished nicely and it was just a good blowout for him.”

“He finished strong.”

“He has come through that run well and his work has been good.”

Williamson starts brilliant debut winner Ragazzo Mach in the group 3 Diamond Creek Farm Stakes on Thursday.

The three-year-old bolted in by six lengths in the smart time of 2.41.4 for 2200m in his first start at Ascot Park, earlier this month.

Williamson has kept Ragazzo Mach’s fitness levels up with a Winton workout, which he won, beating Southland Oaks hopes Watch Me Now and Pearl Harbour.

“He trialled really nice, it was only a quiet trial but he won it nicely.”

“He is a nice wee three-year-old, he is well and he has trained on nicely.”

“I am expecting a good run, it will be interesting because some of those small fields become quite tactical and sit-sprint affairs.”

“But he has got a lot of speed and he showed last time he has got a lot of toughness, as well.”

Williamson will drive Pearl Harbour for trainers John and Katrina Price in Thursday’s group 3 Southland Oaks Final.

The reinsman is hoping the pacer drops the bit and relaxes during the 2700m feature, so she can slingshot her rivals from the back.

“She has got a lot of speed, she is as fast as any horse I have ever sat behind over 100m.”

“She can really, really go.”

“But, it will just be how well she switches off and relaxes and runs out a really strong 2700m.”

“The draw makes it a little bit tricky in terms of where she may end up.”

“But there are some nice horses in there and they might go really hard and it could set it up for a horse like her that has sat back and done nothing.”

Williamson also drives four horses on the Diamonds Day undercard.

They include Tac Mac (race 2), Tulsa Jaccka (race 3), Franco Santino (race 6) and Onesmartfella (race 10).

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