Ultimate Stride on comeback trail
By Jonny Turner
A last start group 1 winner and rising trotting star is set to give Southland harness racing a big boost when it returns next week.
Master trotting trainer Phil Williamson is eyeing the first post-lockdown meeting at Ascot Park for Ultimate Stride’s long awaited return to the track.
The blueblood son of Love You and millionaire mare, One Over Kenny, will have been through two lockdowns when he steps out at Invercargill.
The first came when the 3yr-old had to be boxed after suffering a peddle bone injury after bolting in at the Breeders Crown Finals at Melton in August of last year.
The injury came as a surprise to Williamson, after the horse initially came through his maiden group 1 victory in good style.
“After he won at the Breeders Crown we got him back here and put him in the paddock,” the Oamaru trainer said.
“Then, two weeks later, he was lame and the x-rays showed he had broken a peddle bone.”
Ultimate Stride’s peddle bone has healed well and he has progressed well through his current campaign.
“The peddle bone has healed well and there are no problems with it,” Williamson said.
“Horses can injure them again, but at this stage there has been nothing to worry about.”
Williamson plans to start Ultimate Stride at next week’s meeting if the horse trials up to the trainer’s satisfaction on his home track on Saturday.
The 3yr-old currently has 65 rating points to his name, which means he will effectively have to race hardened all-comers in his return.
That has Williamson slightly weary ahead of next week’s meeting.
“He is a very nice horse and I have got a good opinion of him, but it won’t be easy for him.”
“He will be first up for a long time and there are some nice trotters around.”
“I know Nathan [Williamson] has his good trotter, Chinese Whisper, ready to go.”
The draft rescheduling of the Harness Million and NZ Sires Stakes Championships give Williamson and his owners, Emilio and Mary Rosati, plenty to work towards with Ultimate Stride.
A return trip to Victoria for the Love You trotter to the Breeders Crown and Victorian Trotters Derby is unlikely at this stage.
The Rosatis are not keen on setting up a clash between Ultimate Stride and their leading Australian based 3yr-old, Elite Stride, Williamson said.
The powerhouse owners do not just have their pair of smart 3yr-olds to look forward to.
Williamson is set to trial another of their NZB Standardbred Yearling Sales purchases in Leaf Stride, soon.
The 2yr-old colt, by Love You from Sun Mist, who was the second highest priced trotting yearling at last year’s Christchurch sale, is progressing well and could race at short notice.
Williamson has just brought this year’s trotting sales topper, a Love You colt from Queen Kenny, back in to work.
The yearling will be put through another preparation ahead of next season.
The colt has impressed the trainer with what he has done so far, he said.