By Michael Guerin
Rather than be worried about the tougher task Cracker Hill faces at Alexandra Park this Friday young trainer Brad Williamson says he is excited by it.
Williamson and his exciting machine take on just four rivals in the $85,000 PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales Trot on Friday night but it is still one of the most anticipated races of the season so far.
Not only has Cracker Hill looked open class material but so have all of his rivals, particularly Bolt For Brilliance and Ultimate Stride, trained by Williamson’s father Phil.
And Cracker Hill has been potentially been the biggest loser out of the Sales Series Trot being moved because of Covid.
“Had this race been run back when it was supposed to be I think it would have been a bit easier,” laughs Brad.
“Ultimate Stride wouldn’t have been ready for it and back then I think my horse was going better than Bolt For Brilliance back in April/May.
“But I think it is great for racing and for trotting to see five good horses but especially three that are already proven in open class.”
Williamson has been looking after Ultimate Stride for his father alongside Cracker Hill in the north where they are stabled with Josh Dickie, who will catch driver Ultimate Stride this Friday.
“We took them both to the workouts at Pukekohe last Friday and while we only gave them a quiet run they were both good and finished alongside each other.
“They both handled right handy ok and I think it won’t bother them this week.”
Williamson is confident Cracker Hill will have the gate speed to cross to the lead early and says that is crucial because being his first time right-handed he wants him on the marker pegs.
“That will be a big help and I won’t be scared to stay in front if we get there.
“I have huge respect for all the others but if we are in front and they come and beat us, so be it.”
The race will be a hard one for bookies to line up as Cracker Hill would have been favourite six weeks ago but Bolt For Brilliance has been outstanding lately.
The question will be whether he has any gate speed and if not whether he can come from behind the southerners.
Friday’s meeting also hosts the Holmes D G, with the likes of Copy That and Mach Shard and will be the first Alexandra Park meeting in two months to have the crowds back on track.
With Auckland moving to Level 1 on Thursday racing effectively has no restrictions so owners and the public can attend all meetings of all codes.
Racing officials and the public will be hoping that continues for a long, long time. Like forever.