Craig Williams’ first win in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes 11 years ago added another chapter to a family history in the race.
The jockey has since added another four victories in the 1400m Group One handicap at Caulfield in the past decade and is favourite to win it again on Saturday aboard the Chris Waller-trained favourite Counterattack.
“When I first won the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes it was very fitting because my father won it as a jockey and as a trainer,” Williams said.
“…it’s been a very lucky race for the family, there’s no doubt about it.”
Allan Williams won in 1979 on Private Talk and trained Black Rouge to win in 1993.
Craig Williams’ first Rupert Clarke Stakes win came aboard Barely A Moment in 2005. He won again a year later on Rewaaya.
He had to wait four years to claim his third on Response, then backed that up 12 months later on Toorak Toff.
After another four-year wait Williams claimed his fifth win on Stratum Star last year, overcoming barrier 15 in the 18-horse field to score a last-stride victory.
If that pattern is anything to go by, Williams has a great chance of going back-to-back again on Saturday.
“I’ve drawn a much better barrier (seven) than last year and I think I’ve got a really nice horse that fits the bill really well,” Williams said.
Williams, who will study the race in more depth leading up to Saturday, has ridden Counterattack once before when second in the Arrowfield Sprint last autumn in Sydney.
He noted he was a dominant winner over 1350m in Brisbane in the Fred Best Classic last campaign.
“I know that he’s pretty tough and because he drops down to such a light weight (54kg) I’m really looking forward to riding him,” Williams said.
Counterattack was a close second in the Theo Marks Stakes first-up in Sydney and was scratched from Saturday’s Shannon Stakes at Rosehill to run at Caulfield.
Counterattack is the $3.70 favourite ahead of Voodoo Lad at $4.60.
If Voodoo Lad wins he will give premier Melbourne trainer Darren Weir a third-straight Rupert Clarke success after Trust In A Gust (2014) and Stratum Star (2015), while his jockey Chris Parnham is chasing his first win at the highest level.
Trainer Robert Smerdon says Stradbroke Handicap winner Under The Louvre will be scratched because of a wide barrier and big weight and will instead head to Sydney for the Premiere Stakes on Saturday week.