Williamson notches group win

Trainer-driver Brad Williamson gives a thumbs up alongside the owners of Cracker Hill after the...
Trainer-driver Brad Williamson gives a thumbs up alongside the owners of Cracker Hill after the 3yr-old’s win in the Hambletonian Classic. PHOTO: RACE IMAGES.
Oamaru trainer-driver trainer driver Brad Williamson added another accomplishments to his family’s long list of trotting achievements when Cracker Hill won the Hambletonian Classic at Ashburton on Saturday.

The Muscle Hill 3yr-old produced a powerful front-running performance in the mile (1609m) feature to notch Williamson’s first group race victory as a trainer.

The first of what is set to be many group race victories for Williamson can be linked to a chance meeting with Queenstown harness racing enthusiast Gary Preston.

And it could give hope to breeders and vendors that took home passed-in yearlings from last week’s national sales.

“I didn’t really know Gary before he asked me to train the horse,” Williamson said.

“He had been passed-in at the sales and Gary was syndicating him.”

Williamson suspects the reason Cracker Hill was passed-in was because of the way his front legs are conformed.

“He doesn’t stand that well in front, so I think that is the reason he was passed-in.”

“It doesn’t worry him and I have always thought he is really nice horse.”

Preston is the man behind the syndication enterprise All Things Harness Racing.

The enterprise was the official purchaser of Cracker Hill’s half-brother, by Love You, at last week’s yearling sales.

The trotter will head to Williamson’s barn, where he will join two Muscle Hill yearlings that the Oamaru trainer purchased.

The New Zealand Trotting Derby in April is Cracker Hill’s next big assignment.

Williamson plans to start the 3yr-old in the Sires Stakes Prelude at Addington on March 13, prior to that.

“The trotting derby is his big aim for the next part of the season,” Williamson said.

“Hopefully we can have a bit more luck with the draws there.”

“We will get through the derby before deciding on anything else.”

“I’ll give him a race at Addington before then, because he hasn’t started there for a while.”

“So, he can go to the Sires Stakes Prelude.”

Cracker Hill worked to the lead after being trapped wide early, before One Majic Kenny put pressure on him before the turn.

The winner brushed off that challenge early in the home straight before going on for a comfortable and impressive win by almost two lengths.

Midnight Dash was a neck behind One Majic Kenny in third.

The testing nature of the rain-affected Ashburton track saw the Sapling Stakes run in slower time than the Hambletonian Classic.

Krug scored a front running victory in the 2yr-old pacing feature, in 2.01.1 That mile (1609m) time was 2.1sec slower than Cracker Hill’s 1.59.0 effort.

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