Punch gives Williams a happy send-off

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 April, 2005, 12:00am

Suspended jockey Craig Williams took his leave of Hong Kong racing for the next two months yesterday but not before he thanked prominent owner Choy Ching-moon for his faith after winning on Easy Punch in the Ice House Handicap over 1,650 metres.

Williams (pictured) had his appeal against a 16-meeting ban dismissed on Friday night, thus keeping him out of race riding until the last two fixtures of the season, but took some consolation in winning on a horse he described as one of his favourites.

'I ride this horse every morning, he's a lovely horse. The owner has been very loyal to me and Easy Punch has been good to me, so I'm always happy to win for both of them,' said Williams, who has won three of his five rides on the big Danehill gelding.

'Last week I was able to take my parents across to Macau races for the day and be in the winning photo when Mr Choy's horse, Doppio, won the Macau Derby. That was a great thrill and although this was just a Class Four, it felt like my Derby today.'

The win gave Williams 32 victories for the season and equalled his best season last year. 'Hopefully I can win at least one at those last two meetings and set a personal best,' Williams said. 'I have to say Alex Wong Yu-on has done a terrific job with Easy Punch. The horse has had all sorts of problems and it took him three years to be right enough to win a race but now that's his third win this season.'

After Easy Punch won two races on turf earlier in the term, Wong gave him a short break and brought him back with a strong-finishing third to Mr Genki on the dirt that Williams believes gave the horse the confidence he needed to win with plenty of authority yesterday.

'Alex changed his training around before that run and he's made a nice dirt horse of him now,' Williams said. 'That run first up really gave the horse confidence and the extra distance today was always going to be in his favour.'