Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson will be without the services of three of his quality trotters this coming harness racing season.
Toro Stride, Leaf Stride and Ultimate Stride, all owned by Australians Emilio and Mary Rosati, headed across the Tasman earlier this month and Williamson says their departure will leave a sizeable hole in his racing team.
“They’re three of my best horses but when they’re owned in Australia they’re probably going to end up there at some stage. It’s left a big hole,” he said.
Four year old Love You gelding Ultimate Stride won eleven of his twenty starts for Williamson and was unbeaten in four starts in Australia. He won the Group One Redwood Classic and Group One Alderbaran Breeders Crown by an impressive thirty seven metres. In total he banked $193,018.
“He’s already proven himself so he’ll be up in that Free For All class. He’ll be competitive but it won’t be so easy.”
The four year old trotting crop was particularly strong this season with Bolt For Brilliance, Muscle Mountain, Cracker Hill and Ultimate Stride leading the charge.
“I’d say the four year olds are exceptional- probably the best crop we’ve had for a while.”
Unfortunately Ultimate Stride had to be scratched from the Harness Jewels Four Year Old Ruby.
“He got a bit of travel sickness going up and had to have some treatment which he couldn’t race on.”
Leaf Stride won two of his ten starts and showed his quality when he ran second to Five Wise Men in both the Hambletonian at Ashburton and the Sires Stakes Final in Auckland.
The Love You gelding finished tenth in the three year old Ruby at Cambridge, but he had excuses.
“If he hadn’t got his head over the arm I think he would have gone close to winning because I was pretty happy with him.”
Of the three trotters heading to Australia he’s the one Phil is most keen to see progress.
“If he gets in the right hand and things go right for him he’ll do a good job. He’s in a low grade and will have the wood on most of those.”
Toro Stride, a two year old out of quality mare Queen Kenny, was limited to just four starts as a juvenile – his best placing being a fourth in the Group Two Two Year Old Trotters Championship at Addington.
“He’s a pretty nice horse. Time will be his friend but he’s got ability and he’ll do a good job too.”
Williamson is unsure ofthe stables the horses will be heading to.
Although those three top liners have departed, Williamson still has multiple group winning Majestic Man in the stable.
“He’s just started strong work and (is) probably six weeks away from trialing. He’s bigger and stronger than he’s ever looked and I’ve plenty of weight to get off him. He’s looking magnificent.”
Love N The Port is another Williamson has time for.
“He’s a very nice horse but he’s just got a few issues with his gait. If he’s going to get up to the top grade he’s going to have to have manners,” he said.
by Bruce Stewart