Group win caps rollercoaster week for Williamsons

By Michael Guerin

One of our great trotting trainers has had a week of tragedy and triumph with his trotting fillies.

Phil Williamson trained Empire City to win the $64,000 Lone Star Sires’ Stakes Championship at Addington on Friday night just a few days after losing his best young filly Isolate in mysterious circumstances.

Williamson was stunned and saddened to lose the Hambletoian winner suddenly on Tuesday and still doesn’t know what caused her death.

“She got a temperature for no reason we can work out and it never went down,” explains Williamson.

“The vet came and treated it and we thought it was okay but then it went up again and she ended up going to the vets down in Dunedin and very sadly we lost her.

“They are doing an autopsy because we still don’t know what happened but it is horrible losing any horse and she was one of our best and most promising.”

The Williamsons got a distraction from that loss when Empire City combined manners and class to win Friday night’s Group 2, trotting straight to the front and never looking like being beaten with Phil’s son Nathan driving.

“She is a real pro and has plenty of ability and it is great to get one of these big races because the young trotters don’t get too many opportunities like that.

“Obviously she has another one next week (Sunday) so we would love to pull off the double.”

Empire City is the first horse Williamson has trained by northern owners and breeders Peter and Janet Argus, who less than 24 hours earlier also won at Alexandra Park with her half sister American Muscle.

“Peter and Janet sent her down to Debbie and Mark Smith to be prepared for the sales and she had an issue so they decided not to take her there and we were lucky enough to get her.”

She was one of the stars of a wonderful night at Addington that saw Millwood Nike maintain her unbeaten record to 17 as she won her lead-up to next Sunday’s NZ Oaks, the Hydroflow Hilarious Guest 3YO Fillies Classic.

She sat parked and cruised clear, her task made easier by second favourite Mantra Blue galloping early before staging a huge recovery, only to be disqualified.

Her driver Zachary Butcher had better luck in the male three-year-old pace the Ian Dobson Memorial when Merlin led throughout to beat stablemate Sooner The Better, the pair well clear of a slightly disappointing Don’t Stop Dreaming in third.

The race sets up next Sunday’s NZ Derby as a great end to the three-year-old boy’s pacing season.

Sunnys Sister embellished her future broodmare value when the sister to Sundees Son won the $112,000 What The Hill NZ Trotting Oaks, picking the right race to get her manners right beating Julie Jaccka and Shez Bella.

And Resolve lived up to her open class form beating the mares in the $60,000 Continental Event Hire Trot, overcoming her 30m backmark.



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