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PHIL Williamson has put his name alongside Mark Purdon as the only Kiwi trainer to win Australia’s treasured Group 1 Redwood Classic.
Purdon has trained and driven two winners of the juvenile trot at Maryborough – High Gait (2015) and Daenerys Targaryen (2013) – and Williamson won yesterday’s renewal with the exciting Ultimate Stride.
It was a truly Kiwi affair with Anthony Butt making the trip down from his NSW-base to take the reins on Ultimate Stride.
“It’s a time-honoured race and one I’ve always wanted to win. It’s great to finally get it,” Butt said.
“It’s been a hard race for the Kiwis to win, so all credit to Phil for coming across and winning it.”
The Aussie flavour from the win came through owners Emilio and Mary Rosati, who not race Ultimate Stride, but went back-to-back in the Redwood after Emerald Stride scored last year for trainer-driver David Miles.
Butt said he was also confident in the run even when he had to make his move earlier than he wanted.
“He was almost going to too, I couldn’t hold him any longer,” he said. “I was happy to make it a staying test anyway, I had faith in his staying ability.”
Ultimate Stride was backed into $1.60 favouritism and won by 3.4m over Is That A Bid with Im Daddy Warbucks third in a 2min4.1sec mile rate for the 2190m standing start.
His task was certainly made easier when second favourite Powderkeg galloped his way out of contention.
Williamson’s hopes of a Group 1 double were dashed when his Victoria Trotters’ Derby favourite Liberty Stride galloped hopelessly at the start and finished tailed-out.
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YOU know something else special happened when winning first-up aboard Inter Dominion champ Tornado Valley isn’t the highlight of Kate Gath’s massive Redwood Day.
Gath was left in awe of the raw but seriously gifted Majestuoso after thrashed his rivals in the Group 1 Victoria Trotters’ Derby.
It’s no secret Kate and Andy Gath have a big opinion of the son of Majestic Son and no everybody knows why.
The way he stormed around the field from near last, out four, five and six wide, then powered clear to win by an increasing 10.1m was something to behold.
Majestuoso’s manners were an issue last season when he won two of nine runs, but he’s come back and although still green at times, he’s won eight of his nine starts this term.
All Cashed Up led and ran well for second despite having every chance, while Kiwi raider Kratos couldn’t match Majestuoso’s brilliance, but worked home quite well for third.
Majestuoso’s win capped a magical 30 minutes for the Gaths with Tornado Valley sparkling in his first-up win in the free-for-all.
Despite drawing the back row and settling third-last while main danger Big Jack Hammer led, Tornado Valley launched a three-wide run from the 700m without cover and toyed with his rivals.
Kate Gath just nursed him down the straight to win by 8.9m in a slick 1min57.9sec mile rate for 2190m.
Arguably it was as impressive as Tornado Valley’s ever looked.
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ANOTHER of the highlights on Redwood Day was the winning return of former superstar juvenile trotter Wobelee.
The Alison and Chris Alford-trained four-year-old did everything asked of him and won well after working to the front from a wide draw and dictating terms.
It was Wobelee’s first run back after 13 months sidelined by injury.
Kiwis will remember he ran third when clearly not at his top in the 3YO Jewels trotting final at Cambridge in June, last year.
Wobelee’s raced 20 times for 15 wins, three seconds and two thirds.