YEAR: 2006

Bev, Nathan & Phil Williamson
After a rather fruitless Cup Day, 'Team Williamson' was in irrepressible form on Show Day at Addington last Friday, and are now likely to take a formidible three-pronged attack into this week's $150,000 Dominion Handicap.

And for a while trainer Phil Williamson was considering the prospect of sitting in the stand for it all, not that that was unduly worrying him. Williamson would need a crowbar to prise his 18-year-old son Nathan from driving Jasmyn's Gift after a memorable first Group 1 success in Friday's NZ Trotting FFA, and in a somewhat surprising move, Allegro Agitato will get another chance from a stand after blowing the start in the last two Dominions and Rowe Cups. She will continue her association with Ricky May, while One Over Kenny earned her shot at the Dominion when she was seen at her demoralising best in the $20,000 Konami Trot last Friday.

With an Auckland trip coming up over Christmas, Tony Herlihy had the option to handle One Over Kenny in the Dominion, a race he has surprisingly won only one and 14 years ago with Directorship. But Sly Flyin's win in the NZ Free-For-All later in the day, which earned him a Miracle Mile invite, will almost certainly see Herlihy in Sydney this Friday night instead of Christchurch. Williamson will probably thus take the reins on One Over Kenny, and the stable could quite conceivably run the trifecta in the Dominion with these three quite outstanding mares.

It was almost certainly a unique event to have four trotting events on the one programme last Friday, and Williamson almost won all four of them. Prior to Jasmyn's Gift and One Over Kenny scoring, Lets Get Serious had caused a minor upset in downing the odds-on Tim Butt and Phil Anderson trained Moment Of Truth in the opening event, while the tables were then reversed when Smart Seeker won over the slightly unlucky Blakatak, a recent addition to the stable and yet to finish out of the money in six starts for Williamson.

Jasmyn's Gift had her chance when third on Cup Day, but an entirely different track and tactics saw her back to her brilliant best. Eased off the gate from a handy draw, Jasmyn's Gift had only one behind her in a fairly strung out field when Nathan Williamson set off at the 1800m with what amounted to a 'search and destroy' mission. Taking up the running with a lap to travel from Glenbogle, Jasmyn's Gift would not be denied in the run home as he challenged in the passing lane, and Allegro Agitato finished on out wider from three back on the fence. "She doesn't have the speed of the others, but gee she has a lot of guts," said Nathan. "She just loves the wet, so as soon as I got out there and saw how much the track had deteriorated, I became quite confident. I knew the conditions would take the sprint out of the others," he added.

The 7-year-old daughter of Sundon was well outside her own national 2600m mobile record for mares of 3:15.1, but her 3:19.5 in the conditions was still a highly commendable performance, and far too much for rivals which had far easier runs and the drop on her. Glenbogle rallied well in the worst of the conditions nearest the pylons, but Jasmyn's Gift always had him well covered, while Allegro Agitato had her high speed negated, particularly when attempting to sprint on the home turn in what had become a 'pretty shitty' part of the track.

Jasmyn's Gift has had her share of problems this past year, failing to produce her best form during an Australian campaign and having some joint soreness issues since returning this season to win four on the trot. "She's had problems with soreness for a while now, and you can't keep her 'screwed down' all the time," said Phil. "She takes a torrent of work, but you have to peak her at certain times. The race on Cup Day would have cleaned her up nicely, and I'm picking she will improve again with today's race," he added.

An improved Jasmyn's Gift will be a scary thought for her rivals going into the Dominion. Im last year's Dominion, she did a stretch and seemingly her chips at the start, but went the 'race of the century' to somehow finish third to Pompallier, a sound enough fourth on Friday. Allegro Agitato is also coming to hand nicely, and will be the hardest for Jasmyn's Gift to beat this week if she steps away with them. "She's been going away good from stands at the trials, and the ten metres will make all the difference - hopefully," said Phil. Outside of winning from 40 metres at Gore last march, in a lead-up race to winning the NZ Trotting Championship at Addington ar Easter, Allegro Agitato hasn't even attempted a stand in the last two and a half years, apart from blowing the starts of those two Dominions and Rowe Cups.

One Over Kenny won't be the worst in the Dominion either after coming off 20 metres and sitting outside the warm favourite Tozzie over the last lap. Tozzie had to work to find the lead over the first 800m, but Herlihy had him covered a fair way from home and Tozzie galloped under pressure before One Over Kenny strolled home by almost three lengths over Rhythm Of The Night and Lord Rotarian. "I was getting her ready for Auckland over Christmas - she is very good that way round - but I guess she has probably earned a shot at the Dominion now," said Phil. "The owners have been threatening to send her stud, so hopefully she has done enough to earn a reprieve in that respect anyway. As intended we pretty much gave her the 4-year-old season off, and she's still on the way up now," he added.

But the day really belonged to Jasmyn's Gift and Nathan Williamson, and he had quite a rollercoaster ride of emotions in the aftermath. A flourish of the whip as she crossed the line was soon followed by some tears of joy upon easing up, and not long after there were some tears of pain when Williamson copped a well delivered and timed hind kick from his favourite mare, flush on the shin. He was doing up a cover strap behind Jasmyn's Gift when she simply responded to entire Winforu squealing in the next stall. Williamson was hobbling around and wincing with the pain for a good 10 minutes afterwards, and will be sporting a very good bruise this week, but lost none of his admiration and joy for Jasmyn's Gift after his biggest win by far, and hers since downing Allegro Agitato in last year's Trotting Championship in record time. "She is just a lovely mare and that is not her at all - she would never kick out in her life - and I would have no qualms about sleeping between her legs. Even if I had to be getting around on crutches, you couldn't stop me driving her next week," he said.

Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 22Nov06


YEAR: 2005

Jasmyn's Gift outfinishes stablemate Allegro Agitato
When you're hot, you're hot. Words fronm the hottie himself, Phil Williamson. And it is true, the man is the latest Little Lucifer.

Having won the NZ Trotting Oaks at Addington last month, Williamson returned last Friday night for the sequel to the appetiser, not only winning the Group 1 $50,000 Tyco Electonics/ Ralph, Thompson, Shaw & Thompson NZ Trotting Championship with Jasmyn's Gift but running second with her stablemate, Allegro Agitato. For Williamson, who has had many special moments this season, this was the best of them. "It would be my biggest thrill in racing," he said. "I have had some good tutors along the way, and you don't lower the colours of Tim Butt often in these types of races," he said.

In this case, he was surprised the Jasmyn's Gift would do it, rather than the more fancied and better-performed Allegro Agitato. "She has shocked a few, including me," he said. This was the supreme test for Jasmyn's Gift, a 5-year-old Sundon mare whose assignment was by far her biggest to date. "She went outstanding. To be honest, I had my reservations about her because there have been a lot of little things she hadn't done before. When we took the lead (off Allegro Agitato) Tony (Herlihy) could see how well we were going. She has never been one to fold up, but I couldn't believe the way she pricked her ears and strode away in the straight," he said.

Jasmyn's Gift entered the record books on two counts, the other being her mobile 2600m mobile time of 3:15.9 which bettered the 3:15.9 she set on February 18 when she defeated Some Direction and Marie Wishes. This performance has now put the Rowe Cup on her agenda, although Williamson knows the assignment will not be an easy one. "She has never raced that way round, and that was a factor against the Australian horses when they were in Auckland last month. It can take racing to handle that. But on the way she raced tonight, I have got to pursue that way of thinking," he said.

Jasmyn's Gift is from Ilona Del, a Speedy Summit mare from Del May who Williamson drove to win a race at Waimate for Polly Cleave. She was owned then by Allan Elderton who bred the top class trotter Directorship from Del May, and gave Williamson the mare to breed two foals. One was Iona Whiz, who won a race at Winton and after being sold went through to good company in Australia. Ilona Del, owned now by Clive and Rona McKay, has since left progeny to Holdonmyheart.

While Phil and his wife Bev were disappointed that their son Nathan was not on track to see the mare's big win, they were quick to give him credit. "He has done a lot of work with her, and has kept saying she is as good as Allegro Agitato."

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly

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