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Mining shift worker in line for TAB Battle of the Bush slot

Photo credit: Mike Mills

Ahwan2.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

From driving a bulldozer in an open cut mine during night shift to preparing a classy country galloper on Tattersall’s Tiara Race day at Eagle Farm.

That is exactly what Emerald horseman Raymond Williams is working towards completing later this month in the $200,000 Final of the TAB Battle of the Bush series.

The Williams team, which consists of eight horses, have long identified sprinter Ahwahneechee as a leading BOTB hopeful.

He was run down in the closing stages of the Emerald qualifier on his home track last month and now heads to Barcaldine this Saturday to book his spot for the decider.

“Since we got him basically, we have been thinking Battle of the Bush with him, that has always been the ultimate goal,” Williams said.

“We gave him all his runs in the bush at the non-TABs so he got enough runs to be eligible, out to Thangool and a few other places.

“I think he would be very competitive if he is to make it to the Final.

“To get the chance to go to town and play with the big boys of racing, we do not get opportunities like that every day around our country area.

“The prize money in the Battle of the Bush, the trip is worthwhile, that is for sure.”

The Williams barn are no strangers to having starters in town either, qualifying Hayyler’s Tary for the Country Stampede Final last year.

Like the majority of regional Queensland trainers, Williams juggles work commitments on top of his duties down at the stables.

A shift worker, Williams is in the mines around Emerald driving graders and bulldozers in an open cut mine.

When his shifts overlap with the usual time he would work his horses, Williams’ partner and connections of Ahwanneechee chip in to get the job done.

“It is hard, we have been doing it for a lot of years now but we get by,” he said.

“We usually have six in work, but we now have eight, Ahwanneechee will probably head for a break after the Battle of the Bush Final if we can get there.”

The six-year-old bay gelding and Williams are unlucky not to be already qualified for the BOTB Final, running into western Queensland stalwart Bollente last start and were just rolled on the line.

Leading central Queensland rider Ash Butler was on Bollente that day and the Williams barn have booked Butler for Ahwahneechee this Saturday.

Williams feels the son of Zupaone is fit enough to get out to the 1200 metres at Barcaldine this Saturday and expects to get a nice run behind the speed, believing the leaders will go fast up front.

“We only got beaten in that last stride in the last qualifier, but that is racing,” he said.

“I thought he was home but he did not run the full 1200m that day, which did not help him.

“Also, he did bump into Bollente, who will nearly start the favourite in the Battle of the Bush Final - he is a very good horse that one.

“We are onwards and upwards, we head to Barcaldine now.”

The winner of nine career races from 31 starts made a rare trip to Townsville in May, claiming a quality-filled Open Handicap race over 1000 metres, which is likely to see many of those runners progress to the 2021 Cleveland Bay Handicap.

There are just three slots left in the final for the BOTB on Tattersall’s Tiara Raceday at Eagle Farm on Saturday, June 26, with Barcaldine and Gayndah to be run this Saturday, before Thangool finishes the heats in seven days’ time.

In the Gayndah heat, a strong field of nine have assembled for an Open Handicap.

Click here to read a full copy of the series conditions.