Horse Racing

My greatest victory

Rupert Williams groom of 2015 Burger King Superstakes winner, Fanfield recalls his moment of glory

BY RUDDY ALLEN
Observer staff writer

Friday, November 10, 2017

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Although numerous Classic races have been won by horses he has groomed, Rupert Williams describes the dramatic win by Franfield in the 2015 Burger King-sponsored Superstakes as the greatest moment in his career in horse racing, spanning more than 40 years.

“Races like the Superstakes are premier races, and the feeling was really great knowing that I had a runner of that calibre in the race. It was really a great pleasure for me to see my horse running in that race,” Williams said.

Having worked with trainer Richard Azan (conditioner of Franfield) for 27 years, Williams expressed confidence that Franfield would have won the 10-furlong (2,ooom) event, in view of the diligent programme undertaken to prepare the racehorse.

“It isn't really that difficult to prepare a horse for big races. It is just that you need to do a little bit more preparation than usual because you are going into a top-class race and there is no room for error, so you need to get everything right. So the little things that you normally do, you step up the work and get the horse in real good shape.

“The day when Franfield was running in the Superstakes, I was overconfident in his chances because I had him [pegged] not to lose that day. He was well prepared, plus I had a top-class jockey riding him in Winston Griffiths, and so everything was going smooth.

“The horses that Franfield met in the Superstakes were at his mercy as he had defeated them already, and so it was just [a matter of] who was prepared best. He had the pace that most of the horses didn't have, and once he took over the lead I knew that he would be hard to [beat],” Williams remembered gleefully.

At the end of the race, Franfield was a five-and-a-half-length winner in a time of 2:08.2, but there was one more hurdle to cross. A jockey's objection led to a stewards' enquiry. The inquiry surrounded an incident leading into the turn near to the four-furlong marker when Franfield made his telling move for victory. At the same time, jockey Wesley Henry, who was aboard the leader Uncle Taf, seemingly pulled his mount as Franfield surged forward. When Henry held off on Uncle Taf, the motion caused noticeable interference to Perfect Neighbour, but the stewards of the race meeting ruled that there was no interference.

Franfield survived the enquiry to record his biggest win ever.

“I didn't have any fear whatsoever with the inquiry because I knew that Franfield didn't trouble the horse inside, which was Uncle Taf. Whenever you pass him, Uncle Taf tends to go backwards...The jockey [Griffiths] came back and said everything was ok as Franfield did nothing. Henry aboard Uncle Taf said that Franfield did not interfere with his horse.

“Winning the Superstakes was a really good feeling. It was a moment of joy...it was a moment of happiness. It was a great feeling as it was my first victory in that race,” admitted Williams.

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