Gold Watch, one of the most exciting gallopers in New Zealand racing, kept his winning streak intact at Te Aroha on Saturday with another powerful display to take out the open 1400m contest on the card.
The Cliff Goss-trained 5-year-old made it six wins in a row as he goes from strength to strength for his remarkable 90-year-old Tauranga-based mentor.
Goss was delighted with the performance, which was in stark contrast to his raceday debut in October 2019, when he tailed off in last place, more than 30 lengths from the winner after sustaining a suspensory ligament injury that saw him off the racing scene for just on a year.
Since making his return in October 2020, Gold Watch has an unblemished record and is building towards a black-type assignment, with his veteran trainer astutely stepping him through the grades.
"That was a thrill on Saturday, as we had deliberately kept him on the fresh side, as I wanted him ridden a little handier than usual," Goss said.
"He may have needed the race a little, as he wasn't as strong at the finish as he normally is, while it was also the first time he has raced on the fence all the way.
"Normally he gets out in the clear to make his run, so he may have been a little confused, but once he got clear air, he knuckled down and got the job done.
"I think he is ready to take another step up now, with a race like the Rich Hill Mile [Group 2, 1600m] at Ellerslie on New Year's Day a target for him.
"We have been patient with him all the way through, but now he deserves a chance to see if he can match it in the big leagues."
It's not hard to decipher the pride in Goss' voice when he talks about Gold Watch, despite the fact the feisty son of Swiss Ace has a few tendencies that displease him.
"He is a very strong horse with a lot of guts, but he likes to think he is the boss and will try and kick or take a nip at you when he gets an opportunity," he said.
"I don't saddle him up these days, I just hold on to his head and try to make sure he isn't going to have a crack. I guess that attitude is what makes a good horse, although I wouldn't mind if he knocked that sort of behaviour off a little."
Goss, a former Bay Of Plenty lawn bowls representative, credits Gold Watch with keeping him young and revitalised, as he thrives on going to the stable each morning to work with the animals he loves.
"At my age, you have to keep active or you just wither away," he said.
"I have Gold Watch and another one in work, which keeps me on my toes and keeps me pretty busy.
"When I'm not with the horses, I'll pop along to the local bowling club for a roll-up every now and then, while I still go for the occasional swim, which is something else I like doing.
"With a horse like this, I've noticed more and more people who want to take his picture and have a chat about him.
"He is a very handsome horse and he knows when the cameras are around, as he will perk up and pose like he is a celebrity.
"I'm used to the media attention from when I was training in Macau, so that doesn't bother me, and he seems pretty happy with it as well.
"The thing I'm really enjoying is how many people have taken an interest in him, as his fan club is growing and that is good for racing."
NZ Racing Desk