Group 1 Champagne likely for Williamsburg after Fernhill Mile win

Williamsburg takes out the Fernhill Mile in the opening event on Day 2 of The Championships

It has been touch and go in recent days, but Day 2 of The Championships is underway at Royal Randwick with Williamsburg ($3.50) taking out the Listed Fernhill Mile (1600m) for Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou.

After a hard slugged contest two weeks ago in the Group 3 Schweppervescence (1400m), Williamsburg and Moko ($3.20F) were again left to fight out the finish.

Settled well back at the rear of the six-horse field by Kerrin McEvoy, Williambsurg tacked back on at the 800m, going for a run up the inside rail and getting up behind the Anthony and Sam Freedman-trained Moko and Tommy Berry who were today racing up handy in third.

Front runner Kote ($8.50) who had been racing keenly in the lead for William Pike came off the fence around the turn, allowing Moko to scrape through underneath him with Russian Roni ($6) and Brenton Avdulla hot on his heels for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.

Williamsburg found room and gave chase down the middle of the track, taking the lead from Moko at the 150m and holding him out to win by 1.33-lengths with Russian Roni 5.13-lengths third.

2022 Fernhill Mile Replay

The son of Snitzel out of Group 1 winning mare Fenway was a $470,000 purchase for Tony Fung from the Arrowfield draft at the 2021 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale and has now won three from five.

“He cops his racing really well. When Kerrin first rode him a trial early on he said ‘no matter what he does as a two-year-old he’ll be a better three-year-old,” said co-trainer Gerald Ryan.

“The last race at Rosehill and today were the two races we were aiming at, and he’s delivered both times. If he comes through the race really good like he has the last two starts, I would have no hesitation backing him up next week in the Champagne (Stakes).

“He came out of that (Schweppervescence) race really good; I just thought those horses in the Sires, the fillies they would be too nippy for him over 1400 on back-up. So, I thought we would give him two weeks into today and then comes out here good I would be a lot happier backing him up next week,” said Ryan when asked about not backing him up last weekend.

“He’s proven on heavy tracks, he’s proven at the mile and he’s proven he’s tough, so you only get one crack to have a go at a Champagne for two-year-olds, so we’ll see how he does. If he bounces back like he has he’ll be here. If he felt the run, well he won’t be.”

McEvoy conceded the speed ended up being a lot faster than it appeared on paper,

“They were coming along along the back and I was kind of chuffed because I thought it’s pretty hard ground to be going this quick and it proved right.

“My horse just relaxed really well and I was able to just take my time. He’s a nice colt, has a good attitude and I think he’s going to improve as a three-year-old. And I don’t think he’s just a wet tracker. He’s handled it well enough there today, probably better than the others, but I’m excited to see where he can end up as on older horse.

“There’s more to come from him.”

Williamsburg is now a $9.50 chance with online bookmakers to take out the Champagne Stakes on March 16.

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