Rydgemont wins a family affair
By Jonny Turner
The two fast-class trots at Ascot Park on Saturday were family affairs and not just because they were taken out by half-siblings Rydgemont Milly and Rydgemont Son.
Husband-and-wife trainers Mark and Debbie Shirley notched a well-deserved win when Rydgemont Milly won her first since April of 2018 when she scored in rating 40-53 company.
Two races later, the 8yr-old Monarchy mare was joined in the winner’s circle by her half-brother Rydgemont Son.
Brad Williamson trained and drove the Majestic Son 5yr-old to lead home an all-Williamson first four in the rating 53-80 trot.
Brad was followed across the line by his father, Phil, driving Davey Mac, and brothers Nathan (Crusher Collins) and Matthew (Only One Way).
The result came just over a year since the Williamsons filled the first four in a trotting race at Gore. In late May of last year, Phil led his three sons home when he won with Liberty Stride.
Rydgemont Milly came off a three-wide trail from the 800m to let down with a powerful finish to break her winless run.
Back-to-back wins more than two years ago sent the daughter of 10-win Sundon mare Domination quickly up the harness racing ratings scale.
Rydgemont Milly had had nine placings and run some good races before breaking through on Saturday for driver John Morrison.
“We had been chasing a penalty-free junior driver’s win for quite a while,” Mark Shirley said.
“We had gone close a few times with Ellie Barron, who did a great job driving her.
"She is slow away quite often, so is always having to work into the race at some point. But on Saturday, John got her into the race three wide with cover without having to make a move."
A bone chip in a knee threatened Rydgemont Milly after her winning double of 2018 and the Shirleys tried to get her in foal before the problem remedied itself.
"It has settled down and isn’t bothering her now.
“We will keep racing her through the winter and make a decision about her future before the breeding season.”
Rydgemont Son ran up to his prior form when winning Saturday’s feature handicap trot.
According to Brad Williamson, if the talented trotter steps off the mark, he generally runs in the money.
“He is a smart horse, but his manners have always been his problem,” Williamson said.
“I don’t think he has ever run out of the money for me if he has stepped away.”
Rydgemont Son and Rydgemont Milly are half-siblings to Timaru 7yr-old The Dominator, who made a mistake when finishing behind Matua Tana and Majestic Man in their stirring battle at Addington on Friday.