Promising mare Saint Alice demonstrated she will be a force to be reckoned with in her upcoming assignments when she dashed away in the closing stages to record a comprehensive victory at Ellerslie on Sunday.
The Peter and Dawn Williams-trained four-year-old has strengthened up considerably this campaign where she has now put together back-to-back wins after a string of four runner-up finishes to round out her first preparation back in August last year.
“She is a little bit stronger now and with that added maturity she is finishing off her races a lot better,” Peter Williams said.
“I think she is the type who can go through the grades this campaign, with the possibility of targeting something bigger later in the autumn.
“She doesn’t mind what sort of track she runs on and she tries her best every time she goes out there.
“I think with another twelve months under her belt she will be a very handy horse.”
Williams has similar thoughts about another of the promising mares in the stable with Savabeel four-year-old Slave To Love a candidate to contest the Gr.3 Powerworx Taranaki Cup (1800m) at New Plymouth this weekend.
Williams has been pleased with how Slave To Love has progressed, finishing third in the Gr.2 Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m) two starts back before not having much luck in the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s day.
“She (Slave To Love) is in a tricky spot in the rating system, which can happen with a four-year-old mare, who was competitive in some of the good races they run in as a three-year-old,” he said.
“She struggled a bit last time against the boys at Ellerslie, but I think she has a big race win in her.
“We are going to nominate for the Taranaki Cup and see what weight she gets before making a decision on running there.
“We have our eye on some of those good fillies and mares’ races later in the autumn so if she does go to Taranaki we will probably tip her out for a short break after that and then get ready for the autumn with her.
“She hasn’t gone a bad race all season and in twelve months, when she strengthens up further, she could be very competitive at the top level.”
The win by Saint Alice has also provided a tonic for the Williams stable who have struggled to get their momentum going after the lengthy COVID-enforced lockdown of the Auckland region last year.
“COVID buggered us completely and we have struggled to get back up and going again,” Williams said.
“We don’t have a big team and we lost a couple of horses to Australia which didn’t help.
“Most of the team are younger horses and they take time to get up and running. We know we have some lovely two and three-year-olds in the team, but they are not ready made to just put out on the track at a moment’s notice.
“We also struggled with not being able to travel to the races and be with our horses during the lockdown.
“We had Pam Gerard looking after our runners when they did go racing and she did a truly wonderful job, but when you can’t be there yourself it does mean you are flying a little blind.
“We know things will come right and we are just getting on with it, so to have that win on Sunday is very pleasing and hopefully it is the start of better things to come.”