By Jonny Turner
Even by the standards of the New Zealand Cups greats, preparations for the great race do not start much better than Robyns Playboy’s emphatic winning performance at Ascot Park on Thursday.
The Ross and Chris Wilson trained pacer started his march towards the second Tuesday in November by bolting away from his rivals to win by a massive five lengths for driver Kerryn Tomlinson.
Trained at Gore in Eastern Southland, Robyns Playboy has recently been nicknamed the “Beast From The East” by some of his fans.
The 4yr-old Shadow Play pacer has clearly returned to racing in beast mode and put a below par summer campaign behind after he resting and recharging during an important spell just before lockdown that let him get over a virus.
“There was something just lingering and he was that good we didn’t realise how sick he was,” Chris Wilson said.
“He was doing stuff that other horses could still do, but now that he is over it we realise how much he was taking a hit from that virus.”
“Now he is completely over it and full of himself.”
After putting his troubles behind him, the athletic and clean-winded Robyns Playboy was ready to race again in no time.
After tearing up the training track, there was confidence in the Wilson camp of a big showing from their 4yr-old leading in to Thursday’s race.
“We have never had anything like him,” Wilson said.
“We haven’t got a galloping pacemaker that can go fast enough to work in front of him.”
“He just blasts past them in the straight – it is just really exciting driving him in work.”
Robyns Playboy was perfectly rated by Tomlinson, who set up an exciting race with her front-running tactics.
The junior driver, who secured a penalty-free win for the pacer, was keen to push forward early when discussing pre-race tactics with the Wilson camp
“First up, we were thinking maybe we should go back,” Wilson said.
“But, we spoke to Kerryn before the race and we decided if nothing else was going to be hunting out we should go forward.”
Regular reinsman Craig Ferguson will be back behind the Harness Jewels placegetter in his next start, which is likely to be at Ascot Park next week.
“Now we have just got to try and manage him, really, through till November.”
“So, we are going to try to start him next week because we actually need the handicapping points to get him up high enough to guarantee him a start in the cup.”
“Craig is pretty keen to line up next week and then we will ease right off him for another three or four weeks and build him back up again.”
“Fingers crossed we can do the best by him and get him to the cup in the kind of condition he is in at the moment.”
Another victory at Ascot Park, on the second last day of the season, would complete a perfect ending to Chris Wilson’s first official term as a trainer.
The horseman, who has been helping his father prepare winners for around two decades, has notched nine wins in his first season in partnership with Ross.