(By John Jenkins)
An outstanding training performance by Sylvia Kay and an equally game ride from rookie apprentice jockey Bridie Ansell saw Dr Watson score an upset win in the $35,000 Platinum Homes Taranaki 1200, feature flat race at today’s Wellington meeting.
In a six horse field Dr Watson started fourth favourite and returned a dividend of $13.60 for a win and $4.60 for a place.
The seven-year-old gelding was dropping back to 1200m after finishing runner-up over 2100m and 2040m in his last two starts, the most recent being at Wanganui only a week ago.
Kay, who has been astute trainer of thoroughbreds for many years, knew that with the very testing heavy-11 track conditions at Trentham, she had a super fit horse to run out a strong 1200m and Dr Watson fitted the bill ideally.
She decided to reward apprentice Bridie Ansell with the mount on the horse and the 21-year-old brought up her first win from just three race-rides.
Levin-based Ansell, who had a successful career in the equestrian field before taking up a jockey apprenticeship, began her race-riding career at New Plymouth last Thursday where she had two rides for a third on Rare Breed and a second on Bae Corp.
Dr Watson was her only ride at Trentham today and she certainly made the most of it. She bounced the horse out quickly from the barrier and had him in touch with the leaders throughout before driving through a narrow gap between Comeback (outside) and Art Deco in the final 100 metres to score a three-quarter length win.
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 and said the young rider has a great work ethic and attitude.
“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.”
Asked about her decision to drop Dr Watson back so much in distance Kay said: “He has won over 1200m a while ago.
“On that track (heavy-11) 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 excellent winning effort.
“It’s very special and I can’t believe it just happened,” she said.
“He was so brave and I didn’t think for one second he wasn’t going to go between those horses. He’s just so good.”
A delighted Ansell had a special thank-you to her boss Ilone Kelly and to Sylvia Kay for having the faith to put her on Dr Watson in such an important race.
Dr Watson will now contest the $40,000 Parliamentary Handicap (2200m), one of the feature flat races on Wellington Steeplechase day at Trentham on July 13.