Ultimate Stride faces first open class test
By Jonny Turner
Star 4yr-old Ultimate Stride will attempt to continue his brilliant return from injury when he heads to Addington for the first time in over a year on Friday night.
The Phil Williamson trained trotter will step up in class to take on proven open class horses after two brilliant wins against lower grade horses in Southland.
It has been more than a year since Ultimate Stride faced then same kind of challenge he does on Friday, when he won back to back group 1 events in Australia.
With two runs under his belt, the timing is right for the royally bred trotter to again test himself against better opposition.
“We definitely think he is up to it and he should be hard to beat,” driver Matthew Williamson said.
“He isn’t fully screwed down yet, he has a big campaign coming up with a few big races, but he is fit enough to win.”
Staying appears to be the son of Love You and million dollar One Over Kenny’s forte.
So, his rivals should expect to do plenty of chasing if Ultimate Stride can step cleanly from the front line Friday night’s 2600m handicap.
“Staying is definitely his go,” Williamson said.
“If we could step and run that would be ideal, especially with the ones to beat starting behind us.”
Ultimate Stride has displayed perfect standing start manners in three attempts from behind the tapes.
That should help him maintain his early advantage over his key rivals from the Robert Dunn stable in Pretty Majestic and Woodstone.
Both have headed south from Dunn’s Auckland barn with a good amount of fitness under their belts.
Pretty Majestic has had three workouts to ready her for her resumption, while Woodstone was third first up behind Daisy Hill at Alexandra Park last month after also having three workouts.
The Dunn pair start beside the talented One Apollo on the back mark.
Eye-catching last start runner-up Overzealous starts on the front line with Ultimate Stride and her stablemate and roughie, Madeline Stowe.
Williamson will team with his brother, Brad, when driving Rydgemont Son in Friday night’s intermediate grade trot.
The 6yr-old reverts to mobile racing after galloping from behind the tapes in his last start at Invercargill.
Midnight Dash looks the horse to beat in the 2600m event, but Williamson is not ready to concede the race to the Greg and Nina Hope trained 4yr-old just yet.
“Midnight Dash has been going great, but I though Rydgemont Son could give him a fright if he did things right.”
“He beat him when they raced against Cracker Hill a few starts ago, even though Midnight Dash did sit parked that night.”
With star trotter Oscar Bonavena side-lined through injury, it is up to his little (half) sister, My Moment’s Now, to fly their family’s flag.
Williamson will drive the Matt Purvis trained 4yr-old in her return over 2600m on Friday night.
“She should be a good chance if she brings her manners,” the reinsman said.
“She ran a nice quarter (400m) at the workouts last week and she looked to do it quite nice.”
Purvis was in the sulky when My Moment’s Now ran her last 400m in 28.3sec to win at the Rangiora workouts.
The trotter was second behind Insist The Win in the first of her two public appearances ahead of her return.
Williamson also drives Cool Phelan, The Governor, and Swell Time on Friday night.
The reinsman rated Swell Time a decent place chance from barrier 1 following her last start win in good time at Ascot Park.