Craig Williams produced a gem of a front-running ride on Hard Stride to steer the consistent gelding to victory in the Listed Regal Roller Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield this afternoon.
Williams, who was returning to Melbourne after a stint overseas, took Hard Stride straight to the lead in the early stages of the race and he dictated the tempo, while keeping easing favourite Thiamandi in a pocket.
Triple Group 1 winner Moment Of Change looked like the danger, but he started to feel the 62 kilograms on his back when asked for an extra effort and Hard Stride kicked clear from the rest of the field to record a comfortable victory.
“It is lovely to be home racing back here,” Williams said after the race.
“I had a lovely trip away and I had a great experience and it is nice to be home here on the winning platform.
“He had a nice run in front and even though he has had a long preparation you can see that they really know there horse and they have kept him happy and well.”
Co-trainer Simon Zahra paid credit to the professional ride of Williams and he also praised the toughness of Hard Stride who has been up and running since he scored his maiden race win at Werribee on January 12.
Zahra admitted that he has considered sending Hard Stride to the spelling paddock on a number of occasions this preparation, but he plans on keep the Street Sense gelding in work as long as he continues to respond in training.
“It is great to have him onboard,” Zahra said of Williams.
“He is a true professional, he does all the tapes, so you don’t have to tell him much and he rode him beautifully.
“Credit to the horse I think it is about his 12th or 13th run for the preparation.
“He has been under pressure a long way out, especially at the Valley, but he already runs well here and he was really well weighted and drew good.
“We say every start that he is going to the paddock, but just comes up, he licks the bin and he looks fantastic.
“We just poke him around at home and he is hard fit now, so we will keep him going.”
Moment Of Change was far from disgraced with the top weight on his back and he is set to return to the highest level of racing in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 1.