Craig Williams retains Mr Brightside ride in Australian Cup

Lindsay Park Racing has ended speculation Craig Williams would be replaced aboard Mr Brightside, confirming the star rider had been booked for the Australian Cup.

Williams’ ride aboard the six-time Group 1 winner in last Saturday’s $4 million All-Star Mile, in which the pair finished second to Pride Of Jenni, was the subject of much discussion with some suggesting he was in line to be replaced by Zac Purton at Flemington on March 30.

Owners were given the chance to vote on whether a jockey switch should take place with co-trainer Ben Hayes revealing overwhelming support for Williams.

“As everyone knows, a couple of people in the ownership group had strong opinions, so it went to a vote and Craig won easily, which is good and we’re very happy about it and I think it’s the right decision,” Hayes told RSN927.

“I don’t think he did anything wrong with what he did.

“Obviously on the day everyone is frustrated, but when you wake up the next morning and have had 24 hours to think about and see the way he pulled up, he definitely didn’t go anything wrong by the horse.”

Williams and Mr Brightside, who drew the second outside alley in the 1600m All-Star Mile, settled towards the rear and spotted Pride Of Jenni around 10 lengths in the middle stages before cutting that margin to two lengths at the line.

“We didn’t have the best barrier draw and under those circumstances…you see how far he stood them up and for him to only be beaten the margin he was beaten in the end, he went super,” Williams said post-race.

The All-Star Mile was Mr Brightside’s first defeat of the campaign after 1400m Group 1 wins in the C F Orr Stakes and Futurity Stakes and was the 12th start in a row that he has filled a quinella slot.

Williams has been aboard for 10 of those 12 runs, with Luke Currie having ridden him to victory in last year’s All-Star Mile before Purton was aboard for his second-straight win in the Doncaster Mile when Williams was sidelined through injury.

Williams has ridden Mr Brightside to each of his other 14 wins, which include the Memsie Stakes and Makybe Diva Stakes at Group 1 level earlier this season.

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