Nathan Williamson returns to stomping ground
Chinese Whisper seeks hat-trick
By Jonny Turner
Southern speedster Chinese Whisper will be the talk of Kurow Cup day if he can keep his manners in check for the third consecutive start tomorrow.
The Nathan Williamson trained trotter has unleashed scintillating closing sectionals leading in to the feature handicap trot at Oamaru.
Those wins came after two error-ridden performances, which the 5yr-old can put further behind him with another faultless display.
And that looks likely if what Chinese Whisper has shown Williamson in trackwork recently is anything to go by.
“He seems to be in a really good head space at the moment and I am really happy with him,” the trainer-driver said.
“Fingers crossed he can do things right again on Sunday.”
That frame of mind should not be rattled by Chinese Whisper venturing out of Southland for just the second time tomorrow.
“I don’t think the trip should worry him, we will go up on the morning of the race and I can’t see it being an issue at all,” Williamson said.
Chinese Whisper will start from a 10m handicap in tomorrow’s 2600m feature.
That may not be the hindrance it would be to many horses given the 5yr-old’s electric speed.
“I wouldn’t imagine there would be many in that race that would be as fast as him,” Nathan Williamson.
“Ideally I would sit him in and use his speed because it is his biggest asset.”
“But he has can do work, I think because he went a couple of poor races earlier on in the season people might think he is weak.”
“But he is definitely not.”
Chinese Whisper may need to call on his toughness when meeting what looks to be the strongest line up he has faced during his short career.
He takes on Midnight Dash, who has been competing well in stronger Addington company recently.
Emerging talent Cochy Malc, Superfast Lad, Rydgemont Son and the seemingly born again Missalyssa add depth to an exciting clash.
Williamson will start what is hoped to be Franco Santino’s path to the New Zealand Cup in the Kurow Cup.
From a handicapping perspective the 2600m feature looks an ideal race for the 6yr-old.
With the scratching of his fellow 20m backmarker, Spirit Of St Louis, Franco Santino has at least 13 more rating points than the rest of the field.
“It is a pretty good race for him – with the mark he is on he is not going to find any better races,” Williamson said.
Smart 4yr-olds Minstrel and Italian Lad, who will undoubtedly go to higher ratings, both have a major advantage over Franco Santino in starting from the front line.
And Williamson knows how hard they will be to catch.
“It won’t be easy chasing them from 20m.”
“I have been impressed with what Minstrel has done and you have to have full respect for Italian Lad’s colours.”
“But, I am happy with my horse - he went a really nice workout at Winton last week.”
“He should go a good race.”
Franco Santino was a nose behind race rival Lawrence, who reeled off a in 55.9sec closing 800m at the Winton workouts.
Williamson lines one other runner up at Oamaru in Longueval, who starts from barrier 9 in race 9.
“The draw is a real killer for him over 2000m.”
“But, I didn’t think the field was that strong, so he could be in it if he could get a decent run.”
Williamson hoping for memorable homecoming
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Southland trainer Nathan Williamson will be hoping for a memorable homecoming when he takes three stable runners north to Oamaru Racecourse on Sunday. The North Otago native is pleased with his trio of runners and he is looking forward to kicking off what could be an exciting spring for Group Three performer Franco Santino who will contest The Golden Fleece Hotel Kurow Cup (2600m).
The six-year-old entire will start from the 20m back mark and Williamson is hoping for a solid first hit-out ahead of some bigger targets later on this year.
“He seems well and his training has been good,” Williamson said. “He went well in a recent trial and he benefited from that run.
“He has trained on well since, so I am happy enough with him.”
Williamson isn’t expecting a lot on Sunday with his sights set further on in the season.
“Fresh-up we are just using it as a starting point, but he seems pretty happy,” he said.
“The two off the front (Minstrel and Italian Lad) are going to be the two to beat.
“If he got a nice run I would think he would finish in the top four. Being his first-up run we would be happy with that.”
A tilt at the Gr.1 New Zeaalnd Cup (3200m) in November remains firmly on the raider and Williamson said he will target a few feature races in the south prior to testing the waters in Canterbury later this spring.
“He was sixth in the Hannon Memorial (Gr.3, 2600m) last year, so he has got that on his agenda,” he said.
“We will take him up to a couple of races in Canterbury and see how he mixes it with a couple of the better ones.
“We are going to nominate him for the Cup. We nominated him last year and just decided to give him another year. He should be ready for it now if he is up to the class.
“We will see how that transpires and hopefully we make the race.”
Williamson will also line-up Chinese Whisper in the Glamour Hooves Racing Stables Handicap Trot (2600m).
The Sundon five-year-old will be vying to make it three wins on-end and if he continues to impress Williamson said he could join his stablemate on the trip north to Addington Raceway in November.
“He has been going well,” Williamson said. “There are a couple of nice horses in there. He has been trotting well so if he brings his A game I am sure he will acquit himself well.
“He will have a freshen-up after this race and then we will have a look at some races later on in the spring.
“The Cup meeting is on the agenda, but what sort of races I am not quite sure. He will be in the middle grades somewhere.”
Williamson is also confident of a bold showing from Longueval in the Bluff Proteins/Johnson Gluyas Tractors Mobile Pace (2000m).
The Bettor’s Delight gelding ran third last start over 2200m at Invercargill and Williamson is hoping he can go two better on Sunday.
“He has been racing pretty well of late. He has just got a bit of a rough alley (9),” he said.
“It’s a bit of a step back in class for him so he should be hard enough to beat.”
Williamson is looking forward to heading back to Oamaru where he will be able to catch-up with family and friends.
“It’s good to get up to Oamaru,” he said. “We will stay up there and spend the night with Mum and Dad.
“It will be good to get back there and it’s a good change from going to just the one track mostly since lockdown. A bit of a change is always good.”