Williamson's northern raid at Alexandra Park tonight

By Michael Guerin

Southland’s best harness trainer starts a rare Alexandra Park campaign tonight with two objectives.

One is winning either the Northern Derby or Oaks, or both, over the next week.

The other is taking three better horses home than the three he flew north.

Nathan Williamson has become the dominant force in the harness racing stronghold of Southland, his team often dominating meetings and TAB markets in the deep south.

But starting at Alexandra Park tonight things step up a level as he brings Dreams Are Free north to start his Northern Derby campaign while fillies Flying Ellie and Ruby Roe are aimed at next week’s Oaks.

Ruby Roe has been so impressive winning two heats of the Southland Oaks her connections have paid the hefty late entry fee to get her into tonight’s $100,000 Caduceus Club Ladyship Stakes where she meets a deep field.

“All three of mine are good horses who deserve this trip,” says Williamson.

“But I am not kidding myself they face an easy task.

“Dreams Are Free is still very much learning and he is up against the best of his age and that is hard enough but he also has to learn about Alexandra Park racing while trying to beat them.

“So if he races well over the next two Fridays then I will be happy regardless of the results.

“Because he will then go home a better horse and ready for what we are hoping will be a big three-year-old season.

“So while we want to win, we also want him to come out of this trip have learned about top level racing.”

As talented as he looks, Dreams Are Free faces a massive task in tonight’s Sires’ Stakes heat as Chase A Dream has drawn the ace and should probably lead and win and even if he doesn’t Cold Chisel is the obvious danger and clear next best chance.

With the Derby next week now worth $200,000 it is hard to imagine many drivers doing anything too dramatic after the early burn so Chase A Dream looks the night’s multi anchor.

Ruby Roe meets a red hot field with proven big-race winning fillies in Coastal Babe and Duchess Megxit while there is still no telling how good All You Need Is Me might be.

The daughter of champion mare Adore Me was super impressive on her northern debut last week but whether she gets as easy a lead with a gate flyer like Coastal Babe in the race could decide the race.

“I know Ruby is stepping up in grade but her best form line for me is that she beat All You Need Is Me when they met, so I think she is up to this field,” says Williamson.

“But she will have to handle the right-handed track, the lights of night racing for the first time and a few other things. So it is a big test.”

Flying Ellie is a little pro who is using Race 3 tonight as her Oaks lead-up but meets some smart intermediate grade pacers, headed by Jolimont, who will work his way to open class.

One of the other highlights tonight will be Old Town Road starting his Race by Grins campaign in yet another small handicap pace field, where even his 30m back mark should be enough to beat him if he is any where near his peak.

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