Lisa Williamson so proud of Celerity, a maiden no longer

Celerity’s perfect demonstration of the value of perseverance is likely to live long in the memory of her trainer Lisa Williamson.

The seven-year-old was engaged in the Bet At Fillies’ Handicap at Haydock on Friday, her 106th start in a career that had thus far been without a win.

This season’s form had perhaps been leading up to a change in fortunes, however, with two successive placings in July paving the way to the six-furlong Haydock contest.

The betting market still only valued the mare as a 33-1 chance, odds she completely denied when storming home under apprentice Erika Parkinson and prevailing by a length and a quarter on the line.

Celerity is owned by Rick Heath, who was hosting a staff party at the evening meeting and had therefore requested that all of the horses run in his silks were entered.

“The owner on Friday had his staff do so he said ‘I want to enter all my horses, have a really good night out with them all there doing their best’,” Williamson explained.

“Celerity ran over six furlongs, the ground went quite soft and I just said to Erika ‘jump and go, try to get a few lengths on them, you’ll probably finish last but just see what happens’ – and would you believe it?

“We’ve had her a good few years now, she’s a real character.

“For some reason she always runs better in better races, she’ll run well in a conditions race around Chester and a class four, but she can’t win a banded race.”

Heath had aimed to reach 100 runs with his mare, but once that figure had been achieved he was inspired by her recent results to keep her in training for longer still.

“The owners are amazing, they tried to put her in foal, but she didn’t take so they wanted to get to 100 runs with her,” Williamson said.

“The last couple of runs she’s done really well, she’s run some quite solid races so we thought we’d keep her going.

“She looks amazing, she has a fantastic life, she’s in the field every day. I just think she looks like a female stallion, she’s huge, a really big chunky sort.”

Celerity has provided valuable race-riding experience to 25 different apprentices so far and Williamson feels her it is due to the work of her staff that her horses are kept sound and happy throughout their busy careers.

“We try to give people a chance,” she said.

“We’ve got Red Stripes who’s run 175 races and I think that’s a credit to the staff and the yard that they keep getting turned out, turning up at the races and looking well and running well.

“They have a great life, they really do, they go out every single day of their lives and they just look really well.”

Williamson drove the horsebox to and from her Wrexham base and shared the occasion with her head girl of 27 years, Hazel Roberts.

“It was a great day,” she said.

“I was the box driver, it was my head girl, her dad and myself – it’s all a big team effort.

“I’d say it was one of the best day’s racing in my career, there was just something about that night.”

Famous first success for Celerity – at the 106th attempt

Celerity produced a 33-1 shock at Haydock on Friday evening – to win her first race at the 106th attempt.

Trained by Lisa Williamson and ridden by Erika Parkinson, the seven-year-old – who had her first run at Dundalk over five furlongs in April 2016 – never saw another rival as she made all in the Bet At Fillies’ Handicap.

Her winless run had eclipsed the record set by Quixall Crossett, who went 103 starts without winning.

The daughter of Casamento has knocked on the door previously, finishing second seven times, and she had been third last time out at Thirsk.

Taporley-based Williamson told Racing TV: “I’m completely overwhelmed, it’s fantastic. You can never ever give up hope, can you?

“She’s an absolute legend and she’s actually been running really well of late. She seems to have hit a bit of form and everything has fallen into place today.

“It was a fantastic ride by Erika. I honestly didn’t think the extra furlong would work but it has, it’s just a dream come true and I’m so pleased for the owner Rick Heath (Heath House Racing).

“I’m very blessed with a lot of my owners who are in it for the love of the horse, Rick is a local guy and we like to support the local tracks and have fun along the way. It’s not always about about winning, it’s about enjoying your horses and she has a home for life, but they’re always trying their best.

“We’ve never doubted her enthusiasm for the game. She’s got a little bit of a mind of her own and she doesn’t like being hit behind the saddle.

“As you can see she takes her races extremely well – she looks amazing – and we actually gave her a proper break for the first time. She came to my house in Wales and she wintered out and she’s come back I think a better horse.

“I think it’s what she needed.”

Parkinson said: “Once we were clear I thought we just had to keep her there. She likes to go from the front and when horses come to her she really pushes on and she really did that today.”