By Tony Megahey
Danny Williams might have lost two stable stars but highly rated Chewbacca is ‘smoking hot’ to fill the void into a Rosehill Gardens TAB $75.000 Highway Handicap Class 3 (1200m) on Saturday.
Williams is confident of bigger occasions with the lightly raced four-year-old who resumes following a slick jump out and extensive track-work for the prolific series winner who has expanded his training base.
He believes Chewbacca will be a leading contender for the Country Championships after Kopi Luwak, last season’s winner of the Goulburn leg, broke down again with career threatening tendon injuries and runner-up Pumpkin Pie was transferred to Richard Freedman.
“Chewbacca has always shown us exceptional ability, he jarred up in the final, was doing things wrong so we spelled him,” Williams explained.
“He’s come back far more mature. He’s been back in work a good while, he jumped out nicely at home recently so I’m expecting him to be highly competitive.
“He’s as forward as we can get him without the race fitness, so there’s obviously improvement.
“But we’re confident he’ll be a genuine Country Championships contender.”
Chewbacca wins at Goulburn in February
Leading into the qualifier at Goulburn in February, Chewbacca had been highly impressive winning a BM 58 there by a widening three lengths, backed from $2.20 into $1.75.
A brilliant 1.9.79 convinced Williams he was up to the level of the best regional sprinters despite just four race starts.
“It did and he’s thrived in a new environment, all the horses we send to Moruya seem to do the same,” he said.
Williams now has stables at Goulburn and spectacular new facilities at pristine Moruya on the far South Coast.
“Chewbacca has thrived at Moruya, the environment of the river and the beach and outdoor yards, surrounded by wild-life are wonderfully relaxing for horses. And humans as well,” Williams chuckled.
Danny’s stable star She Knows was a super second in a Group 2 sprint on Caulfield Cup day behind the classy Eduardo.
While Chewbacca is still on the horizon for that grade, he will take beating with 56.5kg and barrier seven for Jason Collett in a Country Class 3 - "he’s got good gate speed, so we’ll be on pace.”
His main danger is likely the Dryden and Collings recent Highway winner Handle the Truth.
Two weeks ago at Royal Randwick, Handle the Truth was trapped three and four deep from a wide draw at 1100m and finished a gallant fourth.
On Saturday, Nick Heywood, in scintillating regional form, replaces Jay Ford from a middle gate. Rosehill at present is rated a good four in fine weather.