Empire City to make Alexandra Park debut tonight

By Michael Guerin

Trotting training supremo Phil Williamson has just retired his best ever trotter but he has a new apple of his eye in at Alexandra Park tonight.

Williamson’s multiple Group 1 winner Majestic Man has run his last race after 105 starts for 24 wins and $855,545 in stakes.

His new trotting excitement machine Empire City has an awfully long way to go to get to Majestic Man’s level but she has started her career on the right trajectory with five wins from seven starts and winning juvenile trotter of the year.

She returned at Addington last week with a powerful win via a long sustained run from the 800m and oozes class.

“She has all the key ingredients to be a top trotter, she has the gait, the manners and the speed,” says Williamson, one of the most successful trainers of trotters ever in this part of the world.

For all Empire City’s obvious talent Williamson has brought enough newbies to Alexandra Park to know they can be tripped up by racing right-handed for the first time.

“She isn’t as confident this way (right-handed) yet and while she can win this is her trial for richer races coming up in a few weeks.

She'll line up in the IRT NZ Sires' Stakes 3YO Trotters Prelude (8.39pm).

“She will wear a Murphy Blind on her inside this week to help her steer better."

Empire City also finds herself as one of the brightest stars of a stronger than usual early-season three-year-old crop with plenty of talented rivals tonight and maybe one really good horse in Paramount Kiwi.

He was unbeaten as a two-year-old and looked a natural and while he was beaten into third in his seasonal debut last start there was far more to the story than that.

Paramount Kiwi finished third to older horses and trotted a remarkable 2:45.5 which is over two seconds faster than the national record for a three-year-old, not that it will count as only winning times do.

But it shows what a talent he is and if he shows gate speed and settles in front of Empire City the filly will need to do something special to beat him.

Add in Father Barry, Levi, Dreams Pat, Bounce N Beyond and Princess Sadie, who Williamson is caretaker training for son Matthew, and this three-year-old crop will provide some real highlights as their season develops.

Trotters will be the highlight of the early part of tonight’s meeting with a stacked juvenile trot including some impressive trialists and the return of last season’s Anzac Cup winner Eurokash in Race 5, the Border Fencing Services Handicap Trot.

But it wraps with a good two-year-old fillies race and Duchess Megxit set to go around red hot in a four-horse Race 10, the Magness Benrow Sires' Stakes 3YO Fillies Heat 3 Mobile Pace.

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