Sacked from Everest winner, Craig Williams looks on the Brightside
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Just days after being publicly sacked from riding Everest winner Giga Kick again this spring carnival, champion jockey Craig Williams triumphed in Saturday’s group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington on star miler Mr Brightside.
In typical Williams fashion, he returned to the winner’s stall with a big smile on his face, humbled by the opportunity to partner with the country’s best miler.
Craig Williams goes past the winning post.Credit: Getty Images
Ever the professional, Williams said he wasn’t concerned about being booted from Giga Kick.
“This is just unfortunately part of business,” Williams said on Channel Seven.
“It hasn’t gone my way in regards to, I’m not riding Giga Kick next time he runs, but how can I begrudge 30 years of what I’ve been lucky enough to do and what I continue to do?”
Giga Kick’s racing manager Rodney Douglas faced the wrath of the stewards on Saturday, handed a $1500 fine for conduct detrimental to the interests of racing after he told TAB Radio on Wednesday that he would “have strangled” Williams had he been at Moonee Valley last Saturday.
“I’d have strangled him with my bare hands, I’d have strangled him in the mounting yard,” Douglas said.
“There’s no excuse for what [Williams] did.
“He couldn’t sustain the run he was given, it was a ridiculous ride, he had no answer for why he did it, so he might suffer the consequences.”
While Williams could have responded with his own words on Saturday, the Melbourne Cup-winning jockey let his riding do the talking.
He started the group 1 meeting with a win on $9 chance Our Last Cash, but then triumphed on Mr Brightside in the feature event, staying within striking distance of leader Alligator Blood throughout before prevailing by a length and a half.
Williams has long been maligned for finding ways to get beaten on short-priced favourites, but his record is as good as nearly any in the Victorian jockeys’ room right now.
Saturday’s win was his second at group 1 level this season, after he partnered Mr Brightside to victory in the Memsie Stakes a fortnight earlier.
Last season he won four group 1s, as well as the Everest on Giga Kick to help his connections collect over $19 million in prizemoney. The year before he won three group 1s and $14 million in stakes earnings. He won six group 1s in each of the two seasons before that, including the 2019 Melbourne Cup on Vow And Declare.
Key to that has been his ability to build partnerships with horses and learn from their tendencies.
With the Giga Kick alliance broken, Mr Brightside is clearly his top seed.
“It was a great thrill to win a Makybe Diva Stakes in such great fashion and especially with a horse I’ve spent so much time with and part of his development, it’s very special for me,” Williams said post-race.
“That was one of the easiest group 1 races I’ve won, and it’s a really big thrill.”
While he didn’t comment any further on being sacked, he said the support he had received in the past week had filled him with gratitude.
“The last couple of days, you realise how lucky I am and grateful I am for the network and support I have around me, even competitors and things like that,” he told Seven.
“It’s nice when people reach out and see how people are going through certain things.
“I just feel really grateful. The last two days highlights how lucky I am to have so many great family and friends around me.”
Mr Brightside’s co-trainer Ben Hayes confirmed his next start would be in Sydney in the $5 million King Charles II before another tilt at the Cox Plate.
Star West Australian mare Amelia’s Jewel did as her connections promised with a clinical win in the group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes, while the group 2 Bobbie Lewis was taken out by Star Patrol.
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