Australian jockey Craig Williams is entitled to a sly chuckle as he re-enters Hong Kong's racing arena this Sunday as a fully accredited championship winner and major player on the Group One stage. Williams will ride Growl for David Hayes in the $20 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup and happily admits Hong Kong has played a large part in his achievements this past year, but stops diplomatically short of saying part of that credit has to go to the Jockey Club for virtually kicking him out. As disappointed as he was then, Williams has had an object lesson in one door closing and a whole world opening up. In a year, he has won a string of Group Ones, including the Golden Slipper Stakes and W.S. Cox Plate, two of Australia's most important races, become part of Melbourne racing's most high-profile combination with Hayes, won a jockeys' championship and has another in the bag. 'I didn't want to leave and was pretty let down, but I guess if that's a letdown, there should be more of them,' Williams laughed on arrival from the World Super Jockeys Series in Japan. 'I learned a lot here, it gave me the chance to team up with David - which probably wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been here - and even the timing of having to go home was ideal.' While Williams' premiership victory last season in Melbourne came with a reasonable amount of difficulty after a slow start, he is taking on a Douglas Whyte look this time, having already ridden double the wins of his nearest chaser. 'Three years here gave me the work ethic and the confidence that set me in good stead for going back,' Williams said. 'If you can't learn something here with so many great jockeys against you then there's something wrong and I was always hungry to learn. 'I was doing a lot of form study by the time I left and in Australia, with so many races all the time, a lot of riders never really learn that side of it. I think homework is making a big difference - the half length that can mean first or fourth in a race.' Williams and Hayes have made a great team - 'we're very comfortable working with each other' - but pressure comes with it. 'The Melbourne Cup carnival is very draining. It was the first time I'd had the pressure of being on so many favourites in big races as well as doing functions and media commitments non-stop,' he says, but the unspoken quote is that the pressure is better than no pressure at all.