Harness racing trainer Deb Williams knows how to make an impression. The Bagdad trainer never has more than three horses in work but when she fronts up at the races, patrons and punters pay attention, especially when she engages Natalee Emery to do the driving.
The combination first came to prominence in September 2008. At the time, Williams was already in the news as the trainer of the 6YO mare Camelots Raider whose claim to fame centered more on her unhoppled status than her race record of two wins from 45 starts.
That changed immediately when Emery was successful at her first two drives behind Camelots Raider and continued throughout the season with Camelots Raider winning six races and reaching a C7 assessment.
Ardlussa Express is the latest success story for the Williams/Emery combination.
The ex New Zealand gelding arrived in Victoria in January 2014 with a record of 28 – 4 – 4 – 4 and added a win and four placings from 13 starts before relocating to the Zeke Slater stable at Seven Mile Beach.
Ardlussa Express improved in 18 starts for Slater with three wins and five placings.
Ashley Williams (Deb’s husband) took a liking to Ardlussa Express and went close to purchasing the 8YO gelding for $5,000 from a claimer in November 2014.
“Ashley watched the videos of a few of his (Ardlussa Express) wins and was impressed,” Williams said.
“Ashley persisted and eventually acquired Ardlussa Express for $2,500.”
Ardlussa Express was everything Williams and Emery hoped he would be, winning his first three starts for them including the open class $10,000 Toreace Flying Mile at Hobart.
Two unplaced runs followed and last Sunday night Ardlussa Express and Emery went stride for stride with Motu Crusader (Nathan Ford) down the long Hobart straight in the $10,000 Incat Tasmania Governors Cup and won by a half neck.
The $2,500 purchase has now won four of six races for Williams and Emery and accumulated $23,415 in prizemoney.
Williams is upbeat about the chances of Ardlussa Express (R6 N3) in an Easter Cup Heat at Launceston on Sunday night.
“He just keeps getting stronger and stronger and he has improved again this week after the Governors Cup win.”
“He goes away safely from a standing start and we give him a big show of figuring in the finish yet again,” she said.
The $40,000 Lees Orchard Easter Cup Final will be at Launceston on Sunday week (5 April).