By Paul Williams
Horowhenua Chronicle readers that picked up on a story last week highlighting the chances of a Levin horse Dr Watson could be counting the cash after he rolled home at big odds.
It marked the first winning ride for Levin apprentice jockey Bride Ansell, who guided Dr Watson home at the huge fixed odds price of 26 to one.
In last week's Horowhenua Chronicle story Dr Watson's trainer Sylvia Kay had warned punters not to overlook his chances, especially as he was fit and would benefit from Ansell's 4kg apprentice claim.
Ansell, 21, only began raceday riding last Thursday, and had picked up third and second placings from her first two rides at New Plymouth last Thursday, before saluting the judge on Dr Watson at Trentham at the weekend.
Ansell and Dr Watson kept in touch before picking a path through the open-class sprinters in the home straight. His fitness showed on a testing Heavy11 surface as other runners began to tire.
Dr Watson had placed at his last two starts over staying trips which threw punters off the scent. His tote price suggested he wasn't rated much of a chance over the short-course distance.
Kay was confident though, and thrilled for Ansell. She was pleased to play a part in her first win as it was just reward for her efforts in riding her horses in their training each morning.
Despite being seen mainly as a stayer, Kay was confident of a good showing by Dr Watson despite the sharp drop back in distance for Saturday's contest.
"He's won over 1200m before...and with a small field on a heavy track..."
Kay said Dr Watson was a quirky horse that played games when she went out get him in from the paddock. He would come up to the gate, before taking off again as if to say "you can't catch me".
When he had finished having his fun he would wander up to Kay as if to say "what are we waiting for".
"He's got his little routine," she said.
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, so brave. I didn't think for one second he wasn't going to go through that gap. He's so good."
Ansell didn't spend too much time dwelling on her success. She was straight back to work that night feeding the horses at her boss Illone Kelly's stables in Levin, to whom she was apprenticed.
Dr Watson would now head back to Trentham for the Parliamentary Handicap (2200m) on July 13.
Meanwhile, Ansell was lucky not to have lost all her riding gear when her car was stolen from outside her Levin house three weeks ago.
The car went missing one night and was reported stolen, only to be returned the next day minus a full tank of gas although, more importantly, her expensive riding gear was still intact in the back.