By Ray Hickson
Goulburn trainer Danny Williams won’t be lacking in quality heading into the 2018 Country Championships after Acquittal and Kopi Luwak added their names to a growing list of contenders at Randwick on Saturday.
And, as impressive as both were in running one-two in the TAB Highway (1400m), the stable’s leading contender could be back home in his box.
That horse is the unbeaten Don’t Give A Damn, who holds the record for the biggest winning margin in a Highway race at 6.5 lengths.
Acquittal broke his maiden status in defeating Kopi Luwak in Saturday’s Highway at his fourth start after jockey Jay Ford allowed the three-year-old to stride to the front 800m from home.
“I’ve always held them in very high respect, they are right up there with the top of my stable,’’ Williams said.
“I just wanted everything to pan out. I’ve been saying for a long time that Acquittal is a 1400m horse and wants to be rolling along. He’s a high cruising speed horse and can run sectionals quite comfortably.
Acquittal holds off stablemate Kopi Luwak at Randwick on Saturday
“The other horse (Kopi Luwak) was an outstanding run. He was 12 days off a 1000m run, he got held up and he should have finished very, very closer to him. He has done a sensational job.’’
Williams has long said Acquittal will be a better horse when he was stepped up to 1400m and ridden closer to the speed, which is exactly what panned out.
Kopi Luwak, on the other hand, found himself back in traffic and found conceding 6kg and a head start beyond him.
“We’ve had to go through the educational process with him because he’s been a difficult horse to manage but that’s a great outcome,’’ Williams said of Acquittal.
“It’ll lift his rating up and hopefully we are well on the way to getting both horses into The Championships.
“The 6kg difference might have turned the result around three lengths but in the qualifier they are going to be on level weights.’’
Williams said Don’t Give A Damn, a last start winner of the Highway Consolation on Everest Day, will reappear at the races in a couple of weeks but for now he’s rapt with the progress of his entire Championship team.
Danny Williams building a strong team! Runner-up Kopi Luwak is also CC bound. The Goulburn Qualifier is run on Saturday February 24. https://t.co/jdqrphzEUs
— The Championships (@ChampionshipsRR) January 20, 2018
Other contenders include Highway Sixty Six, Pumpkin Pie, and an imported galloper called Biodynamic who ran in the English Derby in 2016.
The biggest problem for Williams will be qualifying as he can only have a maximum of three runners in the $500,000 Country Championship (1400m) on April 7.
The first two home from the Goulburn Qualifier on Saturday February 24 earn a start then he can send horses to the Muswellbrook Wild Card race on April 1.
“Don’t Give A Damn trialled the other day, it was an exceptionally good trial,’’ Williams said.
“He’s come up probably a few lengths better than last preparation. He’ll run in a couple of weeks time and we’ll see.
“We’ll run as many as we possibly can at Goulburn and if we can’t get into the top two then we can go on to Muswellbrook.’’