Disappointed at his sacking from Giga Kick’s The Everest title defence, Craig Williams says the past 18 months has taught him there are bigger things in life than horse racing.
Williams and his family are involved and continue their humanitarian support of residents in Ukraine who suffer daily in the war with Russia.
While still passionate about his ongoing job in horse racing, Williams said the war in Ukraine had put life in a different perspective for not only him, but his family.
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Williams was informed on Friday that James Mcdonald would ride Giga Kick in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on September 30 and in The Everest (1200m) on October 14.
It did not take Williams long to bounce back guiding the Donna Scott-trained Our Last Cash in the Robert Cram Sprint (1100m) to victory in the opening race at Flemington on Saturday.
“(There was) no pressure. I couldn’t wait to turn up. I had eight rides here at Flemington,” he told Channel 7 after the win.
“I’ve got the favourite in the Makybe Diva Stakes and Melbourne’s actually got beautiful sunny weather – so it’s fantastic.”
The 46-year-old jockey went on to win Saturday’s $750,000 Group 1 feature race Makybe Diva Stakes aboard Mr Brightside.
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Craig Williams Credit: Getty Images
The ugly fallout continued on Saturday when Rod Douglas, the racing manager for Jonathon Munz, was fined $1500 by Racing Victoria stewards for comments made in a radio interview that were deemed ‘detrimental to the interests of racing’.
Douglas later phoned Williams to apologise for those comments, which aired on Wednesday after Williams was beaten aboard Giga in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley last week.
“I’d have strangled him at Moonee Valley,” Douglas said.
“I’d have strangled him with my bare hands, I’d have strangled him in the mounting yard. There’s no excuse for what he did.
“It wasn’t all about winning that race, he knows where we’re at with the horse. He knows he’s three weeks until the Premiere (Stakes) and five weeks to The Everest.
“It just doesn’t make any sense to what he did. Inexcusable and we’ll see what plays out. He knew where we were at and that’s the bit that’s hard to cope with.”
Blake Shinn riding on Rothfire and Craig Williams on Giga Kick hit the line behind Imperatriz McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley. Credit: Getty Images
The bitterness was buried completely when Williams took the microphone and began to speak on what really matters to him.
“I must admit the last couple of days you realise how lucky I am and how grateful I am for the support network I have around me, and even as competitors,” he told Channel 7.
“I know what my wife and I have been doing in Ukraine, and it’s actually nice when people reach out and see how other people are going through certain things.
“But again this is just unfortunately part of business. It hasn’t gone my way but how can I begrudge 30 years of what I’ve been lucky enough to do and continue to do? I just feel really grateful.
“I guess the only thing I would say in the last two days it highlights how lucky I am that I’ve got so many good family and friends around me.
“I’ve got a great team that work and make my job good. As you can see by the horse’s performance (Our Last Cash) – they prepare the horses – I only have to sit on them.
“I’m very privileged in the job that I do and it’s nice to be winning the first race today.”
Williams earned praise from fans for his classy response, while Channel 7 presenter Jason Richardson said: “You can add everyone at Seven as supporters, mate.”
“I love the horse (Giga Kick), but Jonathon’s owners have chosen to replace me and that’s his prerogative,” Williams said.
“It’s a bit disappointing but I wish the horse all the best. I think he’s a superstar so good luck to him going forward.”
– with 7NEWS
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