By Ray Hickson
Danny Williams has been itching to employ visiting UK jockey Tom Marquand for the past couple of weeks and finally gets his chance at Randwick on Saturday.
The leading Goulburn trainer even took to Twitter to seek out how to book the 20-year-old hoop and he’s confident he can provide at least one winner at Randwick in the shape of country Cups aspirant Hemmerle.
Marquand, who will also ride Country Championships contender Acquittal for Williams, has wasted little time in showing why he’s one of the rising stars of English racing.
“I think he's world class, I believe I'm a good judge of jockeys and I think he's going to be a superstar,’’ Williams said.
“I've booked him for as many as I could. He's very strong and now he's got his eye in he's going to be a force.’’
Hemmerle is one of three Williams runners in the TAB Highway (1600m) and the lightly raced four-year-old is being groomed for races like the Wagga and Albury Cups in the autumn.
He was narrowly beaten second-up at Warwick Farm at Warwick Farm by Moobi and Williams said he’s ready to stamp himself as a middle distance horse on the way up.
“He did a good job second-up on an unsuitable track, he loved the surface but the dynamic of the track is awkward for him because he's a momentum horse,’’ he said.
“He’s had time to get some fitness under his belt and now he's had the two runs I couldn't be happier going into this.
“I think we will see the best of him on Saturday.’’
Hemmerle is a dominant $2.40 favourite with TAB to post his third career win after which Williams said he’ll give the horse two weeks out with the Albury Cup not until March 22 and the Wagga Cup on May 3.
Of his other Highway runners, Williams said he’s expecting a top four finish from Biodynamic ($16), who he said was very unlucky at Moruya last start, while Tiara Road ($31) is well weighted but lacks the talent of a horse like Hemmerle.
With under two months until the Goulburn Country Championships Qualifier, Williams is starting to wheel out his contenders and Acquittal and Highway Sixtysix kick things off in the January Handicap (1000m).
Acquittal ran third in last year’s Goulburn heat but made the final when stablemate Kopi Luwak was ruled out and he wasn’t disgraced running ninth. But he hasn’t raced since the Final so Williams is keen to get him up and running.
Hemmerle is narrowly beaten at Warwick Farm on December 22
“He ended up getting sore in the feet, he had issues with the farrier leading into the championships last year and pulled up average after the final,’’ he said.
“He came back in for eight or 10 weeks (looking at The Kosciuszko) and we just weren't happy with him. He's furnished and matured since being out and came back with no issues.’’
The gelding has only won the one race in seven starts but he’s a horse Williams has long held in high regard and says of his duo he’s the most forward, having been in work longer, and won an unofficial trial last week.
“He's on song for a nice run albeit there is plenty of improvement in him,’’ Williams said.
Highway Sixtysix has long been championed by the trainer as one of his better horses but warned she’s underdone for her first start since running fourth in a Highway at Rosehill in September.
“Rather than, as everyone seems to do, barrier trial I came to the conclusion you're spending money and not making money so with prizemoney so good paying back to 10th you're better off running and this will bring her on,’’ he said.
“She’ll get back and with the rail out so far it’s going to be difficult but I’m sure she will run well.’’
Import Green Sweet ($31) has disappointed Williams since he took over training the 2017 Albury Cup winner but said he wouldn’t put it past the seven-year-old to show up in #theraces Handicap (1500m).
The gelding was only beaten 1.5 lengths by Monsieur Sisu at Warwick Farm on December 22 after running a race best last 200m of 12.38 (Punters Intelligence).
“I went to Warwick Farm a little bit lacking confidence because of his run before and I thought he should have finished a bit closer,’’ he said.
“He's slowly getting down in class and I'm sure at some stage he will run to the ability he shows.’’