YEAR: 2006


Ricky May & Phil Williamson
'Mr Trotting' Phil Williamson recorded the unique feat of training three consecutive winners of the Group 1 $50,000 NZ Trotting Championship when Allegro Agitato romped away with the event for the second time at Addington last Friday night.

Two years ago, Williamson drove Allegro Agitato to overcome barrier nine in leading over the last 2400 metres to score in a then race and national record of 3:16.1, spoiling the party when Lyell Creek resumed his career in New Zealand. In between, only stablemate Jasmyn's Gift has spoiled Allegro Agitato's party by downing her in a superlative display last season, recording a new race and national record of 3:15.1 which still stands. Allegro Agitato recorded 3:18.1 last Friday night, but it was no less a searching contest in the cool and breezy conditions. "They really smoked along early, and while she seemed a long way from them the race really played into our hands," said Ricky May.

Allegro Agitato had only two behind her in a strung out field passing the mile, but May was soon on the move improving three-wide in the open and took up the running passing the half, proceeding to step out a quarter down the back in 29 which had everybody off the bit, before the 7-year-old Sundon mare "eased herself down" near the finish to score by two lengths over the game Some Direction, Ruthless Jenny and Toomuch To Do in a race dominated by mares.

Cracker Nova crossed fron the outside of the front line to lead early before Castleton's Mission, in very unfamiliar territory, worked wide and into the lead at the 1900m mark and took them through a rapid lead-time of 1:15. He was ready to wave the white flag when Allegro Agitato surged up on her relentless run however, and the second favourite beat only an errant Gold home.

"She can do that - ease herself down - but she was just cruising and would have picked it up again if something had come along," said May. May has been her regular pilot this season and has also won the Ashburton Flying Mile, Group 1 NZ Trotting FFA on Cup Day and $100,000 Grand Prix at Moonee Valley in December with her.

Allegro Agitato now joins such famous names as Nigel Craig, No Response and David Moss as the only two-time winners in the 49-year history of the Trotting Championship. For May it was his third Trotting Championship, having won with Warren Stapleton's Highwood and Cedar Fella, the best trotters he has driven until Allegro Agitato. "Cedar Fella was a great horse when he was sound, and Highwood could have been anything if Warren knew then what he knows now. "But they're three completely different horses - Allegro Agitato has more speed and is sound for a start."

It was Williamson's fourth training win in the event, having first signalled his arrival on the big-time trotting scene in 1996 with Role Model who downed Call Me Now, Chiola Cola and Diamond Field. Williamson, who races Allegro Agitato with Oamaru breeders Michael and Ronnie Lauren, said she will now head for "whatever mobile races there are for open class trotters," which is likely to mean a $15,000 preferential draw 2600m affair at Addington next Saturday night. If not, having accomplished her solitary mission this time in, Allegro Agitato will head to the spelling paddock before Williamson initially sets her for a crack at a third consecutive Ashburton Mile win and then suitable races at the NZ Cup Meeting, Auckland and Melbourne again.

"It is tempting to look at the Rowe Cup again, but with Delft on ten metres she is going to be jammed in there (off the front) and there's probably not much point - it's not really an option," said Williamson. "Her record from a mobile - in fact her record overall if you eliminate the races where she took no part - is quite outstanding though, and we'll just keep her to those now," he added.

While Allegro Agitato began her career with 19 races from a stand and won eight of them, more recently they have been a disaster for her and include blowing the start in the last two Dominion and Rowe Handicaps. Her only win from a stand since scoring from a 10m handicap at Addington in January, 2004, was at Gore from 40m a fortnight before the Trotting Championship in her only lead-up race. "She can be okay with nobody behind her, and that served as a suitable race to clean her up."

In 16 races from a mobile in New Zealand, Allegro Agitato has now won seven and been placed as many times, only failing to pay a dividend twice at Alexandra Park when fifth behind Delft over Christmas when noticeably below her best form, and in last year's Inter-Dominion when she galloped on her only occasion behind the gate. Overall, her record in 45 starts in 17 wins, eight seconds and eight thirds for stakes worth $356,382, with the promise of much more to come from such a lightly-raced mare.

Allegro Agitato is known about the stables as 'Cindy', a name given to her by the Laurens when she was a foal. "She grew up in a paddock with two other fillies, which looked like ugly sisters compared to her, so they called her Cinderella," said Williamson. "I've had cause to call her a few other names at times, but we all love her," he added.

Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 5Apr06

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