Williamson puts on masterclass
By Jonny Turner
The only thing left to debate after Nathan Williamson put on a pin-point display of training and driving to win with Pembrook Playboy, Chinese Whisper and Ragazzo Mach at Ascot Park on Saturday was which incredible performance was most impressive.
The Branxholme trainer-driver put on a masterclass performance taking both the Northern Southland meeting’s feature pace and trot in emphatic displays and producing one of the slickest maiden wins seen in Southland for some time.
Pembrook Playboy fired a huge warning shot at his rivals in the upcoming Southern Supremacy Stakes Final with a crushing win after sitting parked and dragging his main rival, Robyns Playboy, in to the race.
The outstanding four-year-old shrugged off that midrace work before reeling off sizzling sectionals to beat a game runner-up and pacemaker, Memphis Tennessee.
Going in to Saturday’s 2700m handicap with just one run in to his campaign means the frightening news for his Southern Supremacy rivals is Pembrook Playboy will be even harder to beat in the group 2 feature later this month.
“That is exactly the kind of run he needed, really,” Williamson said.
“Because even though he went very nice he was starting to get a little bit tired towards the line.”
“That should bring him on quite a bit.”
“I will look at the programmes and make sure there isn’t a suitable race for him, but he will most likely have a trial and then go in to the Supremacy.”
The New Zealand Cup remains an option for Pembrook Playboy, but it will depend on his form and how the field shapes up as the race approaches, Williamson said.
Though he won in completely different circumstance, Chinese Whisper was just as outstanding as his pacing stablemate in Saturday’s 2700m feature trot.
The five-year-old’s sensational speed was on full display when he unleashed a brilliant finish to win after being second last at the 600m.
Chinese Whisper had plenty against him, giving away a race fitness edge after not racing for almost two months and giving all of his rivals a headstart off his 30m handicap.
But, the classy squaregaiter made light work of those obstacles when powering to the most emphatic of wins.
“Quite often in those kind of races the leaders go flat out, trying to make it hard for the backmarkers, but it quite often plays in to our hands,” Williamson said.
“In saying that [runner-up] Sundons Flyer is a lovely mare and she had a nice run in front of us, so it was a pretty good effort to run her down.”
“He is a horse that carries a bit of condition, so we will map out a programme for him – he go to the Tuapeka meeting next.”
“And then hopefully he will be at his peak when we get to cup week.”
Though Chinese Whisper is nominated for the Dominion, it is more likely the trotter will start in undercard races during New Zealand Cup week, Williamson said.
By winning margin, Ragazzo Mach, who started Williamson’s winning roll, was his trainer-driver’s most emphatic winner.
The three-year-old went to another level after impressing in his recent trials to win his debut over 2200m by a massive six lengths.
Ragazzo Mach paced the second fasted 400m closing split of the day – only bettered by Pembrook Playboy – when dashing home in 27.2sec to win his 2200m event in a smart 2-41.4 time.
“He is a nice horse and everything he has done, he has done it nicely,” Williamson said.
“He has never really been flat out yet, which is good.”
“I was rapt with him, you couldn’t expect anything more from him.”
“I was more shocked with the time than anything else, it didn’t feel like we were going 2.41 because he did it pretty comfortably.”
The Diamond Creek Farm Classic on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park is the next likely target for Ragazzo Mach.
The Williamson team claimed a fourth win at the Northern Southland meeting when Toby O’Gara took out race 10.
The seven-year-old is trained by Chelsea Faithful, who is an integral part of Williamson’s operation.
Toby O’Gara flashed down the outer for driver Jonny Cox to score in an exciting finish.