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Williamson reunites with Delishka

NZ HARNESS NEWS

Matty Williamson will make a fleeting trip to Auckland from Oamaru on Friday for just one premier night drive at Alexandra Park.

Mind you, it’s a drive he’s been waiting two months for – aboard grand mare Delishka.

The combination were successful at their last outing together, taking out the Roxburgh Cup on January 4.

Delishka then went to Australia for a four-race campaign where she was handled by Sydney reinsman Blake Fitzpatrick in two wins and a Ladyship Mile placing.

With Williamson unable to get to Auckland last week, Blair Orange stepped in and steered her to a brave third behind Star Galleria and Jack’s Legend in the Founders Free For All.

But she’s back against her own sex this week and Williamson could not be more excited to be back in the cart.

“She’s been going great guns and, touch wood, she’ll be very hard to beat this week.

“I thought she went really well last week after sitting parked.

“It wasn’t ideal for her but she stuck on gamely in a sprint home.”

Delishka has shown an impressive constitution to cope with a lot of travel recently and has seemingly thrived on it.

She raced at Ashburton on Christmas Eve, then trucked to Central Otago, back to Christchurch before heading to Melbourne, then Sydney and now Auckland.

“It’s that Bettor’s Delight in her, I suppose.

“She’s always had good condition on her and the regular racing is better for her.

“She’s a good doer, you could say.”

It’s only a small, seven-horse field, but Delishka draws the outside under preferential conditions.

The markers are usually the place to be, but her best asset is her speed off a cold shot and Williamson may attempt to drive her for one punishing burst late.

“I haven’t spoken to Brad (Mowbray, trainer) yet about what he’s thinking.

“But she can do it either way – sit back and sprint or she has a ton of gate speed to get handy.”

American Empress was very good in front on this track through December, winning twice, and Williamson believes she, along with Opoutama (two) are the horses to beat.

“American Empress has the draw and the speed to lead and you’d think Opoutama will drop straight on to her back from two.

“I thought they’d be the main two to beat.”

Williamson hasn’t driven in Auckland for a few seasons, but is no stranger to success there.

“Libertybelle Midfrew won the Sales Series Final there (in 2013) and I’ve run three placings in the Rowe Cup with Leighton Hest (2010), Springbank Richard (2012) and Alley Way (2015).

“It’s been a good track for me.”

While he would like to spend the night post-race catching up with friends, Williamson will be preparing for an early-morning flight to Christchurch to then head to Invercargill for their feature meeting on Saturday.

He has eight drives on the card, including four for Hamish Hunter, with whom he has forged a good combination recently.

“All of his team are chances, but some of them have drawn bad.

“Tiziano and Vin Scully are probably my two best on the day.”