Consistent middle-distance performer Dr Watson sprang a major surprise when he upset the open-class sprinters over 1200m on a testing Heavy11 surface at Trentham on Saturday.
Placed at his last two starts over staying trips, including a runner-up finish in the Foxton Cup (2040m) at Wanganui last weekend, most punters never gave the Sylvia Kay-trained seven-year-old a winning chance over the short-course distance.
Quality racemare New York Minute, successful in the corresponding event for the past two years, was sent out a hot favourite ($1.80) with fellow northern raider Comeback, bidding for his fifth straight victory, expected to be the main challenger.
That scenario looked likely to play out as the pair duelled in front for most of the way before Comeback took over early in the run home. Just as Comeback looked to have the measure of his rivals fledgling apprentice Bridie Ansell urged Dr Watson between runners to collar Comeback and score her first success at just her third raceday ride.
Kay sported a wide grin as she waited for her charge to return to the Trentham birdcage, delighted she could play a major role in providing Ansell with her first winning ride.
“It’s the greatest thrill ever,” Kay said.
“She’s (Ansell) such a good girl, she turns up every morning, will hop on anything and I’m just so pleased she has got a win.”
Despite being seen mainly as a stayer, Kay was confident of a good showing despite the sharp drop back in distance for Saturday’s contest.
“He has won over 1200m a while ago,” she said.
“On that track he will just grind away and he is very fit.
“He doesn’t need much (work) really and he just loves his racing.
“He likes his little routines and he really likes Wellington.
“He always tries so we might have to have a go at the Parliamentary next so that will be a bit of a step up.”
Ansell was also trying to keep her excitement in check as she accepted congratulations for her winning effort.
“It’s very special and I can’t believe it just happened,” she said.
“He was so brave as I didn’t think for one second he wasn’t going to go between those horses. He’s just so good.”
Dr Watson will now tackle the Parliamentary Handicap (2200m) that will be run as the feature flat race on Wellington Steeplechase day at Trentham on July 13. – NZ Racing Desk