Emotions Flow As Danny’s Boy Sends Country Championships Message

By Ray Hickson

As the dust settled on an emotional win by Bandi’s Boy in the $150,000 Newhaven Park South East Country Championships (1400m) at Moruya, trainer Danny Williams declared the gelding will likely be seen again before the Final and he can only get better.

Trainer Danny Williams

That’s an ominous warning as the four-year-old, attempting 1400m for the first time on an eight-day back up following an injury that almost ended his campaign, led in a stable quinella running down Atmospheric Rock with a game Bon Frankie in third.

It’s the trainer’s best chance to win the now $1 million Newhaven Park Country Championships Final on April 6 since Don’t Give A Damn ran second to Victorem in 2018.

But despite the strength of the win, Bandi’s Boy is only equal favourite at $6, alongside NRRA winner Tribeca Star, in TAB’s market on the Final.

“To come through what he’s come through it’s a fantastic job, and he can only improve,’’ Williams said.

“He’ll have one more run in between, I don’t know where that will be but we’ll get the horse home and let the horse tell us what he’s up to.

“Obviously we’ve had some nice chances in the past, Pumpkin Pie and Don’t Give A Damn, and he’s right up there with those for sure.”

Just two days earlier, the family of John Woods, one of Bandi’s Boy’s owners, had held a memorial service following his shock death last month and they brought his lucky hat to Moruya so he was there in spirit.

It also followed the sudden death of one of Williams’ staff members on Monday so it was no surprise the popular Goulburn trainer let some emotion out after the win.

“It’s been a whirlwind for them because they only had the memorial on Friday for John, and they didn’t get here until halfway through the meeting,’’ Williams said.

“They’re just absolutely blown away. I’ve just had such a big week and myself, my partner, and my staff have had to put that aside. It’s been very trying and the emotion has got to the climax.

Jay Ford settled the heavily backed Bandi’s Boy in the second half of the field from a wide gate at Moruya, behind a strong tempo, and while he was able to run over the top Williams said it was evident there’s still some ironing out to do.

“He didn’t win by far but when he got to the outside he started to stargaze again and switched off,’’ he said.

“Jay said he still had a bit in reserve but just switched off, he was mindful not to get there too early because he has that history. He’s a better horse when he has something to chase.”

Ford said he is pleased to have got the job of getting Bandi’s Boy into the Final for his late owner done and the horse will only be better for his first run at the trip.

“With John passing away suddenly it’s a sombre moment but he finally got his good horse and he’s off to the final,’’ Ford said.

“He had the superior formlines, I was a bit worried with how the track was playing from where we drew. He’s just a quality horse and the superior horse in that race today.

“The speed looked good on paper and that’s how we were hoping it would pan out, it enabled him to relax really nicely and he was nice and strong late. He’s going to acquit himself well in the Final.”


Williams is less likely to give runner-up Atmospheric Rock another run before Randwick as he feels the four-year-old will have his best chance to run out a strong 1400m with more freshness in his legs.

Like his stablemate he was backing up after racing at Rosehill eight days earlier.

“Jason (Collett) thought he was going to get the money at the 150m and he just peaked on his run,’’ Williams said.

“I think he’s a better horse with his runs spaced and kept fresh. Perhaps the five weeks between runs is a blessing so we’ll wait and see whether we give him another run.”

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