Hometown cup mission complete for team Watson

Victorian harness racing trainer Luke Watson didn’t take much convincing to jump at the chance to tackle his hometown cup with a promising new stable acquisition.

RSN Harness Racing News
RSN Harness Racing News Picture: various (provided)

Two months later it's "mission complete" for Watson, with Keayang Moroccan, who sustained a tough run to collect the $20,000 Rocky Baker Memorial Pacing Cup at Broken Hill, in far west New South Wales on Friday night (Mar 15).

For Broken Hill-born Watson, it was an unforgettable homecoming and notched up a sentimental career milestone.

"Your hometown cup is always something special and it's something I always hoped I could do, and it's right up there with the thrills in the sport," Watson said.

"I've driven in the cup a few times before, but never won it – when the club first stated that race 10 or 12 years ago, the first two winners were horses I was supposed to drive but couldn't get there," he said.

"That stung for a while, so it was very much on the radar as something I wanted to win. I've never even had a runner in the cup before as a trainer, so I thought I might have missed the opportunity," he said.

Watson, who prepares a team of around eight with his wife Kathy at Merbein South, near Mildura, said he had been approached by Broken Hill enthusiast Darren Pollard and asked if he would train Keayang Moroccan.

"We were up at the first Broken Hill meeting for the season and Darren came up and asked if we would take the horse, with the intention of racing it in the cup," Watson said.

"Darren won the cup before with Elect to Rock (2020) and he did all the groundwork and picked this horse out himself.  Full credit also to Jason Lee and his mum Marg, who had Keayang Moroccan before – he turned up impeccable and ready to roll from day one.  He was pretty much everything they had promised.

"It helps a lot having something solid to start with because two months is really not a long time in the scheme of things to get to know a horse and have him at the stage he needs to be.

"He had three leadup races for us, where he hit the line well and got him feeling well, and I think they were great confidence boosters for him."

The 600 metre Broken Hill circuit is a challenging place to win, with tight turns and a home straight of just 84 metres.

After forging to the death seat, then getting some mid-race cover, Keayang Moroccan got to the line strongly over the top of the leaders, to score by 3.4 metres over South Australian-trained Whitestarchristian and another Mildura contender, Im Blingin It (Naomi Kerr).

It's a nice time for Keayang Moroccan to be running in such strong form, with some lucrative and suitable races on offer during the Mildura Pacing Cup Carnival from April 2.

"We've nominated him for Mildura next Wednesday and then we will throw him in during Cup Week, hopefully in the heats of the Tenderprint Australia Cup ($20,000), just depending how he pulls up," Watson said.

"We're still finding out what he's capable of.  He is fast, very fast, but I am not sure he is overly tough.  But we will get him back to Mildura and give him his opportunity to sit and zip and see what he can do.

"I hope whatever he does this preparation he will improve in future.  He ticks a lot of boxes – he is a beautiful sized animal, a lovely pacer with good conformation and his work at home is really, really good.

"I don't think he has 100 percent worked out the racing game yet, and if he can mature that little bit in the mind and his mind can match his body, I think he can go on and win a lot of races."