Williamson after NZ Group One
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Brad Williamson has spent a lot of time away from home this year campaigning Majestic Man and he is set to do the same this Friday when he travels north to Alexandra Park to partner the talented trotter in the Gr.1 HR Fisken & Sons 2021 Anzac Cup (2200m).
The pair have recently returned from a career-defining trip to Australia, where Majestic Man won three Group Ones, including the Dullard Trotters Cup (2240m), Australian Trotting Grand Prix (2240m), and Aquagait Equine Centre Trotters Mile (1609m).
The six-year-old gelding also ran third in the Great Southern Star Final (1720m).
While in the bike on race night, Williamson became Majestic Man’s constant companion with his father, trainer Phil Williamson, remaining in New Zealand because of COVID-19 enforced travel restrictions at the time.
While COVID-19 put another variable into the mix, Williamson said he enjoyed his time in Australia where both he and Majestic Man tasted Group One success for the first time.
“It was a great experience and a good trip. We were very fortunate over there, things went pretty well for us,” Williamson said.
“I managed to get back safely in one piece. With COVID, things could have gone a lot worse. We were pretty lucky with the way everything worked out.”
Williamson, who has been Majestic Man’s regular driver throughout his career, said he was delighted to finally attain Group One success after filling the minor placings so often in his career.
“The Group Ones are what we all strive for and they are not easy to win. To go over there and bag three of them was a career highlight for me,” he said.
“Majestic Man has raced at the top level his entire career and he hadn’t been able to notch a Group One, although he has gone some mighty races at the top level and had a lot of placings.
“It was great for him and his syndicate who have had a lot of horses with myself, Dad, and Nathan, and have supported the Williamsons for quite a long time. They have had Monty Python, Father Christmas, and Dark Horse. To repay them with the horse winning three Group Ones was a big thrill.”
While he is glad to have bagged three Group Ones in Australia, Williamson is looking for that elusive elite-level scalp in New Zealand and he believes he has the horse and draw to do it in Auckland on Friday.
“I am really happy with the draw (1), it has swung in our favour,” he said. “We don’t have any excuses with barrier draws, he should have every show. They are definitely going to have to be a lot better than him to beat him.”
Majestic Man will also tackle the Gr.1 Canam Rowe Cup (3200m) next week, however, Williamson believes Majestic Man is more suited to the distance and mobile start of the ANZAC Cup.
“The ANZAC Cup might suit him a bit more than the Rowe Cup does, but he has placed in the Rowe Cup and Dominion, so he can certainly run the two-miles as well,” Williamson said.
“Over the shorter distance and mobile racing, he should be pretty hard to beat on Friday.”
While confident in his horse’s ability, Williamson is still wary of his high-class opposition.
“Sundees Son has beaten him over the distance before and was sensational doing that as well,” he said. “He is the main danger and Bolt For Brilliance is a pretty smart horse as well. It is going to be a very good race.”
Williamson will also have two other drives for his father at Alexandra Park, including Leaf Stride in the Gr.2 Lone Star Sires’ Stakes Trotter Championship (2200m), and Springbank Mason in the Caduceus Club Members Handicap Trot (2200m).
“The draw (two on the second line) just hurts Leaf Stride’s chances a little bit,” Williamson said. “He might be a place chance from there, but he is going to need a lot of luck from that draw.
“Hopefully he is hitting the line strongly and we will be praying for a better draw next week in the Group One (Northern Trotting Derby).”
Williamson is looking for improved manners from Springbank Mason if he is going to be a threat on Friday.
“On his best form he is good enough to win the race but he has been a little bit disappointing lately, making a few mistakes,” he said.
“If he is right and shows up on the night at 100 percent then he is definitely the one to beat.
“We have had a few little issues with him with galloping in the last couple of starts, so hopefully he is better and trots all the way. He just needs to bring his manners.”
Friday will be a busy day for Williamson who will have two drives at Winton before flying to Auckland, including one from his own stable – debutant trotter Simone Lindenny in the Carpet Plus Wiilys Flooring Trot (2400m).
“I have got quite a nice first starter and she will be pretty hard to beat in the first race at Winton before I go to Auckland,” he said.
Williamson is hoping for plenty of success on Friday, which he will have the opportunity to celebrate at stable junior driver Kerryn Tomlinson’s birthday party on Saturday.
“Kerryn Tomlinson is having her 21st on Saturday night so hopefully we have got something to celebrate with all the racing on Friday,” he said.