They're still a few months away, but the Provincial Championships are in the back of Wanda Ings’s mind. Especially after the Hawkesbury trainer’s lightly-raced five-year-old Williamson made a winning return at Kembla Grange on Saturday.
Having only his sixth start, Williamson ($5.50) was given a rails-hugging ride by Ings’s apprentice daughter Chelsea and responded well to defeat Foxdell ($6) and Figtree ($3.20 favourite) to claim his second victory. And the trainer was quick to heap praise on her 23-year-old daughter, who posted her first provincial success; the 36th win of her career and her 13th this season.
“Chelsea deserves all the credit,” Ings said. “She has done a terrific job getting Williamson to relax. That’s going to be very important if he is to handle the 1400m of the Provincial Championships in March.
"Both his wins to date have been at 1000m. I will probably give him one or two more runs and, if he shows he is up to having a crack at the series, ease up on him for a while.”
All five heats of the 2018 Provincial Championships will be run on Saturdays in March, with Hawkesbury hosting the second $150,000 heat over 1400m on March 10. The $500,000 final will be run over 1400m at Royal Randwick on Day 2 of The Championships (April 14).
Ings purchased Williamson, a son of Dane Shadow, at the 2014 Inglis Classic yearling sale (Lot 342) for $25,000, and named him after her mother Val, who lives in New Zealand.
“Williamson was my mother’s maiden name,” she explained. “I bought him from fellow Hawkesbury trainer Mike Van Gestel (father of Racing NSW Chairman of Stewards, Marc). Mike is an outstanding breeder, and I’ve purchased a few horses from him. The first was Merconman (who won seven races) and then Khajan (also by Dane Shadow, who won at Canterbury in 2013 when partnered by the late Nathan Berry).”
Ings did not rush her purchase, saying he was a “bit immature” and on a couple of occasions tried unsuccessfully to sell him before he raced.
“I took him to the Ready To Run breeze-ups at Canterbury, but couldn’t get the money I thought he was worth,” she said. “Then Inglis later made an approach to buy Williamson on behalf of clients, but the sale didn’t materialise.”
Williamson began his career at home on March 31 last year – and it wasn’t without drama. He finished fifth in a 1000m Maiden, but got his tongue over the bit and bled from both nostrils. He did not race again until December 11 last year and finished third in an 1100m Maiden at home, and subsequently was gelded.
Williamson resumed at Scone on March 26 this year and broke through in a 1000m Maiden (with Chelsea Ings aboard), and then nearly overcame his outside draw when second at Mudgee on April 16. Ings ran him at the Scone Cup carnival in May, but he had come to the end of his tether and ran well below his best in a Class 1 Handicap (1100m), prior to having a decent break.
“Williamson trialled really well at Hawkesbury a couple of weeks back, and we went to the races at Kembla confident he would be difficult to beat,” Ings said.
Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup clinched a double at last Friday’s Mudgee Cup meeting. He scored with favorites Spellology ($2) and Contemplate ($1.70). Both were ridden by Mitchell Bell.
Spellology made it two wins from as many starts in the Class 1 Handicap (1400m), whilst Contemplate, narrowly beaten on debut by his stablemate in a Bathurst Maiden (1300m) on November 10, broke through in a 1500m Maiden Plate.