Craig Williams red hot with an Oaks Day treble to add to Cup and Cantala win


Aside from his Cup triumph Williams also landed a group 1 winner on Derby Day when he steered Fierce Impact past the post in the Cantala Stakes.

While he didn’t get the chance to add to his group 1 tally on Thursday, Williams could not be kept out of the winners enclosure.

Williams rode three winners – on Bumper Blast for trainer Robert Hickmott in the race confined to grey horses, on Soothing for the Godolphin yard of James Cummings and the Country Cup final, always a popular affair, for Greg Eurell on Star Missile.

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On all three occasions he came from the rear of the field and finished hard and late to take the spoils – the sign of a jockey riding with the utmost confidence and an unerring judgement of pace and timing.

And why wouldn’t he – making his non appearance in the Oaks all the more baffling.

Still, Williams wasn’t too perturbed.

“There’s only a couple of chances and my manager didn’t get me on one of those,” he said with a shrug of the shoulders and a grin.

After his Cup win he said he had changed his approach somewhat this season after taking advice, trying to free his mind and just concentrate on what he could influence in the moment. That had helped him “to simplify things” and not be concerned about what he couldn’t control.

It was something he stressed again on Thursday.

“I have got a riding coach and a great manager and everyone that handles a lot of things for me and it just makes things simple for me,” he said.

“The horses are trained so well and they are running their heart out for me, it’s all a big combination. I am not doing anything differently.”

Certainly Eurell and Cummings were delighted to have him on their side.

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After Soothing had exploded away from a field of tough and very useful old sprinters, Cummings was just happy to salute Godolphin’s first winner of the carnival.

“He did a good job with her, that’s the way she loves to be ridden with a cold sit, and when she was coming at them quickly from the 300 home I really felt confident at that stage,” he said.

“Craig’s riding pretty well, it seems like he’s ridden about 30 winners in the last 25 races, he’s going that well, he rides our horses well.”

The ride was reminiscent of that with which he won the Group 2 Danehill Stakes last spring on Encryption, when he again finished with a late flourish.

“For jockeys sometimes they can want to be a lot closer in races and they feel like they are giving the race away but on Soothing it’s very important that she is left alone in the first half, and you saw what she can do with a finishing burst when she’s ridden the right way,” he said.

Star Missile had around 100 of his 800 shareholders waiting to greet him at Flemington, and they had good reason to be delighted with Williams too.

“He’s red hot Craig. Years ago he won the Cox Plate for us [on Pinker Pinker] and pulled out a magic ride that day. He keeps continuing to ride so well,” said Eurell.

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