Bad timing for Williamson
By Michael Guerin
Brad Williamson still can’t believe his luck.
Not that the talented young Oamaru horseman for a minute wants to make light of the situation we all find ourselves in.
He knows Covid-19 has been a worldwide tragedy and affected so many people in our country so much worse than him.
But that is something we all know and all share. And then we all think about how the pandemic has affected us. That is human nature.
And when Williamson thinks of that and what could have been for his stable star Cracker Hill he shakes his head.
“I still can’t believe it,” he says.
“I know there are far more important things going on in the world and I also know that what the Government did and what the bosses of racing then had to do were important.
“But purely on a horse racing level it couldn’t have come at a worst time for me.”
Because Williamson, a young man just starting to make his way up the racing ladder, had potentially the best three-year-old trotter in the country in Cracker Hill.
He has his eye on races like the Sales Series, Sires Stakes, two Derbys and the Jewels. Cracker Hill was his breakout horse and this was to be his breakout season.
Instead, like for so many of us, this is the autumn of Williamson’s discontent.
“I was pretty excited about those races and so were the owners,” says Williamson.
“It is not so much about the money, although that never hurts, but they really wanted to have a good chance in a group one, especially a Derby and so did I.
“Those sort of wins can help a young trainer get started and we had a really good programme mapped out for him.
“So the timing couldn’t have been worse, although again, I realise there are far bigger things going on in the world.”
Cracker Hill only narrowly lost the Jewels last season and beat the older horses twice in December before a comprehensive win in the Hambletonian at Ashburton.
Northerner Bolt For Brilliance looked the only three-year-old trotter racing with his raw ability so it was impossible to imagine Cracker Hill and Williamson weren’t going to win a major race somewhere.
But he might still get another win out of the season even though he won’t race again as he could be three-year-old Trotter of the Year.
Ironically that could come down to a clash with his father Phil’s star Ultimate Stride even though the latter hasn’t raced at all this campaign.
“He won the Redwood and the Breeders Crown for Dad last August and I know that falls inside the three-year-old season for horse of the year voting
“But I’d like to see our horse get it.” Ultimate Stride had a small setback which means he would have missed the Derby at Addington and possibly even the Northern Derby so Cracker Hill was set to make hay while the sun shined.
“I am hearing, and I hope it is right, that races like the Sales Series and Sires’ Stakes could even be held in September or October next season and I really hope they are top give is something to aim at.
“And if they are going to be the sooner all us trainers know the better we will be.
“He (Cracker Hill) is in the paddock but I’d love to bring him back and aim at those.
“Funnily enough Dad’s horse (Ultimate Stride) would also be back for them and he was one horse I was happy not to be racing in the Derby this time around.
“But he would have needed to be good to beat us regardless because my horse really improved from two to three.”
Williamson is educating some of his younger stock and says once training restrictions are lifted he will work up his winter-grade horses to try and be ready in late May or June.
“We will definitely have horses for then and our horses down in the grades are more Invercargill grade horses so I’d hope we can race there is there is any sort of regional racing.”