Breeding’s moneyball man eyeing another milestone


“It’s not a fluke,” Williams says. “It’s hard work, lots of hard work.”

The man who races his string under the Superhorse banner because one day wanted to breed a super horse – he knows it’s corny – has done exactly that. And he might be breeding’s answer to baseball’s moneyball, a workaholic who devours data in a bid to find inexpensive efficiencies.

By his own admission, his work to find the right matings each year for a broodmare band of about 15 is complex. His introduction to the industry was harsh, having thrown away a huge investment when breeding without reason initially with a friend.

“I thought after that I’d better study this and improve on what we’d done,” Williams says. “I’d invested money and lost it all so I wanted to recover it. I studied it myself and it took about five years to get my head around it.

“Then I understood what needed to be done. I wasn’t born into it, I had to read and learn a lot of things. I’m still learning now. It gets better each year as you learn.

“I’ve written my own software system which has taken 15 years to write – and I’m still writing it as we speak. It does complex algorithms and it researches dominant traits. You only get an outcome that is rated a chance if you cross a a dominant and recessive mating.”

He’s also delved into genetic research and hair sampling.

But his major principle is simple: find unproven stallions he thinks will make it and send numbers their way until you find the right match. For example, Williams says he used I Am Invincible when he was standing for just $7000, Lope De Vega for $10,000.

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One of his progeny from the latter, Gwenda Markwell’s Archedemus, is poised to start favourite in the $500,000 Provincial Championships final at Randwick on Saturday.

“My record for picking them has been increasing exponentially,” Williams says. “The year where I thought I had the most risk of getting it wrong was the current three-year-olds. And I got the Derby winner [Angel Of Truth].

“Archedemus was an experiment which paid off, others didn’t. It’s going to get better next year and then the year after.”

This season alone Williams has had 25 winners from just 80 starters. Try to find another owner with a strike rate as prolific as that.

Winx might be shooting for her 33rd straight win in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but Williams’ sprinter is erecting a picket fence of his own. Archedemus is eyeing a sixth straight victory, one that would provide further vindication for Williams’ venture.

“We gave him a barrier trial and he played up in the barriers and missed the start, but he came home well,” Williams says after Archedemus qualified for the final with a win at Newcastle.

“At least we got that out of him because when he’s too fresh he’ll play up. We’re hoping he jumps well because that will be the only issue for him.”

Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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