Fortune favours libertarian Craig Williams

Craig Williams’ eventful week had a satisfying end when the star jockey made the most of a pick-up ride aboard the appropriately-named Liberty Steps to win the first race at Caulfield on Easter Saturday.

The top rider played the role of humanitarian during the week when he travelled to Poland with his Ukrainian wife Larysa to deliver aid packs to those on the Ukrainian border.

Williams left after riding at last Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes meeting at Randwick, spent five days abroad before returning in time to ride a Friday’s Sale meeting.

“I felt like I could do a really good deed for the people that are quite defenceless against the Russian oppression,” Williams said.

“It made me feel that I had a bit more of a step in my stride with the respect (for them) and the liberties, and how fortunate we are here in Australia in a democracy.”

Williams gained the ride on the Ben and JD Hayes-trained Liberty Steps in the $130,000 Bert Bryant Handicap (1200m) on race morning after Luke Nolen, who was initially booked, was unable to take his mounts at the meeting.

Liberty Steps ($11), who was second-up at Caulfield after a debut third placing over 1300m at Sandown, settled last but was edged into the clear by Williams early in the straight and finished strongly to score a half-length win over $3.80 equal favourite Jamarra.

Plus Fours, the other $3.80 equal favourite, was 3-1/2 lengths away in third spot.

“Blaike McDougall, who rode him on debut, said he was a really nice, professional horse and then when Ben Hayes legged me up he said that this was a really lucky pick-up for me today,” Williams said.

“Cantering around to the gates he’s got a really good action and he won with nice authority today.”

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