Family ties key to Williams' victory

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 September, 2004, 12:00am

Amid the Jockey Club's attempts to give all relevant information to its betting customers, the movements of the Williams family are going to have to be included in Hong Kong form guides in the future after jockey Craig Williams cracked the ice for the season during a 'sibling visit'.

Williams had been touched off on Wealthy Treasure last week and had to endure other close misses before Alex Wong Yu-on-trained Solar Empire finally gave him his first win of the season yesterday in his 33rd ride.

'It was becoming a bit frustrating after some minor placings and another three fourths earlier in the day and I had started to wonder when the first win was going to come. But I should have known it would be this meeting because my brother's in town,' Williams grinned.

Williams has virtually never failed to win a race when any members of his close-knit family come to town - whether here or during his stint in Britain - and his father, himself a former jockey, has been present whenever a big event has gone the jockey's way.

'My brother Damien, who is a trainer in Malaysia, and his wife Michelle turned up for a short stay this weekend and lo and behold, I've won a race,' he said. 'It's just about foolproof.'

The win sealed a double for Wong, who had scored up the straight with long-priced Rare Collection (Howard Cheng Yue-tin) earlier in the day and got his own season off the mark in style.

Ironically, Williams (on fourth-placed Handbag Fortune) had lodged a protest against Wong's winner in that race after some tightening over the concluding stages.

Solar Empire was returning from a bleeding attack at his last run in April and had worked in style during his lead-up but when the rain tumbled down his hopes blossomed.

In seven previous runs on rain-affected ground, Solar Empire had won three races.

'He's had his troubles but he has always been a terrific wet tracker so the downgrade was in his favour - in fact, I wanted it to keep raining - and the way the track was helping the on-pace horses, he had everything in place to win again today,' Williams said.

Rival jockeys also appreciated the on-pace bias and the gelding had been made to work along quickly to hold his lead, so quickly in fact that Real Partner was able to come from last past tiring runners and down the middle of the course for a rapidly closing second but the arrival of the winning post rescued Williams and Solar Empire in the nick of time.