Trainer entrusts open handicap ride to veteran of five rides who salutes on Josephine.

Congratulations are due to, 1: Peter McKenzie, 2: game mare Josephine and, finally, 20-year-old Charlotte O'Beirne.

Firstly, to Levin trainer McKenzie for entrusting Josephine to his non-winning apprentice in a $25,000 no-claim race.

Then to Josephine for the gallantry she showed in a tough knock-down, drag-out, three-way fight down the Hastings home straight in Saturday's $25,000 Wairoa Wanderers Premier.

But mostly to O'Beirne. The composure she showed in that close finish was remarkable for an apprentice having just her sixth raceday ride.


There must have been an enormous temptation to get excited and unbalance Josephine.

The fact that the English-born O'Beirne stayed calm to get the job done doesn't surprise Peter McKenzie one bit.

"We've had lots of discussions about that and fortunately Charlotte is not one to get overawed by the occasion."

For O'Beirne's part, she says at least part of her composure stemmed from knowing Josephine so well.

"I ride her in all her work and I've got great faith in her. I knew she'd get the job done for us."

The margins in the three-way finish with Likeapins and Get The Message were a half head and a half head. Interestingly, all three placegetters were ridden by apprentices in a race that did not allow for claims. In total, five apprentices rode in the race.

O'Beirne came to New Zealand from England with her family six years ago when her father landed the job as chief executive with the Wellington Free Ambulance. She got straight back into pony club and less than a year ago approached Levin-based horseman Peter McKenzie to allow her to ride trackwork to determine whether she enjoyed it.

"It was obvious from day one Charlotte had ability and she has had a 200 per cent intent on learning. She's a smart girl, very astute."

With her ability to ride at 52kg without wasting, O'Beirne will be in high demand in races where she can claim her full 4kg allowance.

"I was proud of the whole team," O'Beirne said yesterday without boast. "We all got our job done."

Donna Logan is not one to get carried away with a horse too early, but there is a bit of magic in her eye when she talks about Copy Watch.

She explains that away with: "There's something a bit special about this horse."

No one could argue against that after Copy Watch overcame a wide barrier to decimate the opposition in Saturday's $15,000 Red Giant 2YO Challenge at Ruakaka.

Rider Matt Cameron is usually as sparing as Logan with his praise for horses, but he, too, is happy to put a tick on the forehead of Copy Watch, a son of the Redoute's Choice stallion Time Thief.

Time Thief is a Darley product who raced only seven times for two wins and A$369,738. He finished second to Whobegotyou in the A$1 million Caulfield Guineas and third to Apache Cat in the group one Australia Stakes.

Copy Watch looks an ideal classic horse for the spring and summer and meantime he will reappear on his home track for the third leg of the juvenile triple crown next month.

Southern Icon looked good finishing second, also coming from an awkward barrier.

Cambridge horseman Jeff McVean was suitably pleased to be at Hastings to see Palemo win the Hawkes Bay Steeplechase, but secretly he may have got an even bigger thrill with the effort of debut 2-year-old Stratocaster at Ruakaka.

The Mastercraftsman youngster put in a huge finish to come from last on the home bend to finish just behind the placegetters in Copy Watch's race.

Stratocaster is going to make a big impression very shortly.

Palemo already has the Waikato and Hawkes Bay Steeples on his dance card, but he invariably gives the impression he will get a lot better.

He has a marked determination to lose concentration and provided a classic example of it in the closing stages of Saturday's victory.

He is going to win plenty unless the handicapper gets the better of him.