Sunday Territorian



SURELY no jockey has ever had a more rollercoas­ter Cox Plate ride than Craig Williams in 2021.

Williams was on hot favourite Zaaki and got off to ride star Godolphin colt Anamoe, ironically starting the new equal favourite when Zaaki was scratched on race morning.

Punters flocked to Anamoe who was striving to become the first Caulfield Guineas winner in 37 years to win the Cox Plate as Williams (pictured) plunged the kilograms to ride the exciting youngster.

Williams’ ride ended in narrow heartbreak – or did it? Everyone in Australia had their opinions on the protest and there seemed no definitive answer.

That was also the case for the stewards who rightly took an eternity to deliberate before finally tossing out Williams’ objection against John

Allen and the Joseph O’Brien-trained State Of Rest.

It must have been the most agonising runner-up finish of Williams’ exalted riding career as not even his renowned gift of the gab could get him over the line.

This was racing powerhouse versus racing powerhouse in the stewards’ room as the powerful O’Brien training empire prevailed over Sheik Mohammed.

In the end the Blue Army fell just short of their first Cox Plate win which would have snared them a historic clean sweep of Australia’s racing majors.

But there is now simply no doubting that Anamoe is a freak and a new poster horse for racing lovers.

“He was very game on the track,” Williams said.

“I thought we had good grounds to hopefully overturn the result in the stewards’ room but we weren’t so fortunate.

“He is a serious racehorse – for a three-year-old to go so close, he is a real Australian star in the making.”

One thing for sure was that Williams produced one of the best losing rides in a Cox Plate.

From second last in the run, he zigged where others zagged and sliced through the field on the inside when the other equal favourite Verry Elleegant made a looping run out wide.

The champion jockey saved valuable ground pushing his young colt through between State Of Rest and Dalasan and it loomed as though it was the winning move.

It still could have been, had the stipes gone the other way in a protest that will be debated for years.

“It’s tough, you go through the emotions,” Godolphin managing director Vin Cox said.

“During, or while you’re waiting for the results it’s up and down, up and down, arguing with yourself, ‘Should we have said this’, ‘Should we have said that’, but anyway it worked out the way it worked out.”

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