Punters warm to Phil

By Adam Hamilton

AUSSIE punters expect Kiwi trainer Phil Williamson to steal the show at Australia’s biggest trotting meeting on Sunday.

Williamson’s exciting pair Ultimate Stride and Liberty Stride dominate opening betting markets in their respective Group 1 assignments.

Ultimate Stride, who looked so good winning his only Aussie run, is a $2.10 favourite in the $50,000 Group 1 Volstead Redwood Classic for baby trotters.

Ultimate Stride has barrier nine – two-out on the back row – in the standing start feature.

And filly Liberty Stride, who stunned locals with a monstrous first Aussie wins, is $2.15 against the boys after drawing gate four in the $75,000 Group 1 Haras Des Trotteurs Victoria Trotters’ Derby.

Williamson has booked former Kiwi driver Anthony Butt for both races.

Butt replaced Chris Alford on Ultimate Stride as Alford is committed to his own family runner, Dreamee, from gate six.

Ultimate Stride’s main danger looks to be local Powerkeg, who he did beat easily last outing.

In the Derby, another Kiwi Kratos from the John and Josh Dickie barn is a clear $3.60 second elect despite the back row (gate 10).

The other highlight of the massive day is the return to racing of Inter Dominion trotting champion Tornado Valley in a free-for-all (race seven).

Tornado Valley missed a planned return race a couple weeks back with a minor setback.

Despite being first-up for almost five months and drawing the back row (gate nine), Tornado Valley is still a $1.90 favourite.

Main dangers will be fellow Inter Dominion finalists Big Jack Hammer (gate six, $3.50) and Save Our Pennys (gate seven, $6).

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