Australian jockey Craig Williams is two out of two from his rides on Dunaden, and although he was suspended for the horse’s biggest win in the Melbourne Cup, he was on board in December for success in the Hong Kong Vase. Now he’s been signed up to ride Dunaden in all his remaining races this season.
That means Williams is on his way back to England for Saturday’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, his second trip this year after three rides at Royal Ascot. He gets the opportunity to extend his 100% success rate because Dunaden’s regular jockey, Christophe Lemaire, is likely to be called on by his retained owner the Aga Khan, and could not commit to Dunaden’s schedule. After the King George, that is the Arc in October, with one prep race in between.
David Redvers, racing manager for the owners, Pearl Bloodstock said, “Sheikh Fahad decided that whoever was to ride the horse in the Arc was to ride him on all his races between now and then, which almost definitely ruled out Christophe. Craig has won on his only two starts on the horse, he knows him well and was prepared to make the sacrifice and commitment to come all the way from Australia to ride the horse whenever he ran.”
Williams is no stranger to long flights, and immediately after his Ascot rides was off to fulfil engagements in Japan. It was these that prevented him riding Dunaden there. Redvers felt that Dunaden had been unlucky in running in the Hardwicke Stakes as he was shuffled back in running before finding a clear run in the last 100 yards or so to finish in second place.
Redvers believes that Williams is one of the most thorough jockeys around in his preparation. No doubt some of that work is done on those flights, but apparently not all. Redvers says, “He’s a little bit like a flat equivalent of AP (McCoy) in that I expect he makes an incredibly boring husband as he comes home and pores over video after video. He was interesting when he rode Cay Verde for us, he’d watched the videos of every other horse in the race.”
That isn’t all Williams does in readiness. “When he lands here Friday morning his footprints will be all over Ascot until the race. There’s no more thorough jockey at walking courses as well,” Redvers added. As two of his rides at Ascot were in five-furlong races, there’s plenty of the course left for him to explore.