Williamson to take over Knight team

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

Until now Matthew Williamson was training just the one horse - Boarding Call owned by his wife Charlotte.

And he laughs when asked about taking over the horses previously prepared by Geoff and Jude Knight at Roxburgh, who have announced that they are stepping down from training .

“I’m tripling the stable in one day,” he says.

About to make the trek north to Williamson’s Oamaru base are Wednesday’s impressive Northern Southland Summer Cup winner Deus Ex and three race winner Wolfenstein. Another Knight runner, Jacks N Jazz (5 wins- 82 starts) is off to Australia

“He’s got some young ones too, a yearling and a two-year-old and they could come up too later, but we’ll see.”

As a busy and successful freelance driver with 924 wins over the past decade or so, Williamson has only recently dipped his toes into training.

His sole success so far came with Flossie at Invercargill in June last year, before the mare was sold to North America.

From one of racing’s best known and respected harness racing families Matty Williamson is the second of three brothers (Nathan and Brad) who are all drivers and trainers.

He lives just down the road from his parents Phil and Bev – “but close enough to smell a roast” - and uses the track there most days.

“I think with the driving I do, and also working for dad, the capacity for training is about three – so it should work out good.”

Williamson and the Knights go way back though he says he only heard about the Knights’ plans in the past few weeks – “around Christmas time”.

On Wednesday with Williamson in the bike Deus Ex produced the perfect finale when they won the Cup, upsetting at odds on 15-to-one. It got Geoff Knight all choked up.

“It was great to see,” says Williamson, “Geoff always wears his heart on his sleeve and gets emotional. But that was a notch up on what I’d seen before.”

Geoff and Jude Knight finish up with 255 training successes since 2010, with their most successful season being the 40 wins they had in 2015. On his own account Geoff Knight also trained 36 winners from 1987 to 2009.

While they’ll no longer be training, the Knights will still be involved in the industry and devote time to a mail contracting business they have around Roxburgh.

“I just can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me, and what they have done in the game is outstanding,” says Williamson.

Wolfenstein is likely to debut from his new quarters at Forbury Park towards the end of the month.

“I haven’t spoken to Geoff about how Deus Ex came through his hard run but he’s a good horse and the country cups might be good for him, if he could win one or a couple of them I’d be rapt.”

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