x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Child's play at Meydan for Williams

Successful night in Masters for jockey whose wife is expecting a girl.

Meydan Masters winner Williams.
Meydan Masters winner Williams.

Dubai // Craig Williams, one of Australia's best jockeys, was crowned the third Meydan Masters champion last night, topping a list of 12 international jockeys.

Yet Williams, who rode one winner, one second, one fifth and a sixth on his way to the title, had more than one reason to celebrate.

"My wife is due to have a baby girl in the next few days," said the 34 year old. "In fact, I'm only here because she gave me a weekend pass to come.

"We already have two colts and a filly and this will be our fourth so I'm very excited. We went to see the doctor and he said she was going to foal in the next five days.

"We discussed it and she said that as I had been invited it was too big an honour to turn down. And now I think she's very glad she let me come."

Williams, who has claimed Group 1 races all over the world, was recently dubbed "the hottest jockey in Australia" after claiming three Group 1 races in the Melbourne Spring Carnival.

"I was on Skype with my wife just before we came out to ride the last race," said Williams, who missed out on the winning ride on Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup due to suspension. "I told her I had a chance if I was placed in the final race, luckily I was second although it was a close-run thing."

Williams went into the final Meydan Masters contest, a competition that began on Thursday night, in second place behind Colm O'Donoghue.

He was denied a second win when his mount, Angel's Pursuit, was just pipped in a photo by Firestreak under Christophe Lemaire, but the runners-up position was good enough to seal the Masters victory.

"It's been amazing to come here and win the championship the first time I have competed," Williams said. "I rode here when it was still Nad Al Sheba and I can't believe the change. It's like being hit by a steamroller. This racecourse is something else. To be honest, I would have been happy staying in the jockeys room. It's the best I've ever seen."

O'Donoghue, who won the opening race of the competition, said taking part in a jockeys' championship was always good fun for the riders.

"It's a break from your usual race riding, but we take it very seriously," he said. "You may not have sat on the horses before, but you do study the form and try and find out as much as you can about the horse."

A different jockey claimed each race, with Japan's Kenichi Ikezoe also winning on his Dubai debut.