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Craig Williams Returns to Melbourne

Champion jockey Craig Williams has returned from a successful stint in Japan and will ride at Sandown on Wednesday and Moonee Valley on Saturday.

Williams, who hasn’t ridden in Melbourne since Anzac Day, rode 12 winners in Japan over two months including the Group One Tenno Sho aboard Jaguar Mail at Kyoto in May on just his second day of riding.

The 33-year-old said owner Cultism Yoshida, who raced 2006 Melbourne Cup winner Delta Blues, was very keen for Jaguar Mail to run in the 2010 Melbourne Cup this year.

Williams will be the rider of the Japanese stayer if quarantine facilities in Japan are approved by Australian officials in time for their horses to travel here.

That process is due to take place this week.

Japanese horses have not been allowed to enter Australia since strict quarantine conditions were imposed on the country after an equine influenza outbreak in 2007.

“I rode a winner nearly every meeting. The racing is really tough but it was good experience and I rode out at a few of the training centres and a couple of the farms,” Williams said.

“I was lucky enough to get invited to go to Hokkaido and go to Northern Farm and Shadai Farm.

“At Northern Farm I rode out on two of their gallops including an under cover gallop.

“And I saw some of their stallions including Deep Impact, Jaguar Mail’s sire Jungle Pocket, Zenno Rob Roy, Falbrav and Manhattan Cafe.”

Williams, who came back to ride the Tony Noonan-trained Ortensia in the Stradbroke Hcp at Eagle Farm on June 12, will go back to Japan for a one-month stint from late November until late December.

He has five rides at Sandown on Wednesday, including two for the Mick Kent stable and has been booked for rides by Kent and Caulfield trainer Luke Oliver for Moonee Valley.

Williams arrived back two weeks ago on Tuesday and last week rode trackwork for the Kent stable and for his family at Cranbourne.

“I’ve got a pretty good grounding of fitness and this will be a nice way to kick off and get through the winter and then look forward to the spring,” he said.

Williams has won the past four Melbourne jockeys’ premierships – dead heating with Damien Oliver last season – and the past four Scobie Breasley Medals.

Since splitting with the David Hayes stable last October, Williams has been freelancing and has ridden 41 winners in Melbourne this season, placing him fifth behind Luke Nolen (56 wins) who has his first premiership wrapped up with just four meetings to go.

Article by Mark Ryan Aapracing

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