Ahead Start set to tackle Inglis Guineas at Rosehill

A horse Danny Williams almost sacked before its first start will chase its fourth win from five starts in the Inglis Guineas.

It was a spring morning in Goulburn and trainer Danny Williams was trying to figure out a kind way to tell a group of his owners that their horse, who was about to step out for its first barrier trial, wasn’t much chop.

The son of Dream Ahead was nothing to look at, dull in the coat, weak of body and he had shown absolutely no spark on the track at home.

“I was trying to relieve a bit of the pain before the trial with their expectations,” Williams recalled.

“I said, ‘don’t be surprised if this horse runs last and if he was to beat a couple home, I’d be quite happy. If he was to finish midfield I’d be over the moon’.

“The horse won and won with a bit in hand. Blake Spriggs, who rode the horse, came back and said, ‘I think this is the best horse I’ve ridden in the last two years’. I said to him, ‘I think you’re on something’.”

Surprised but still not convinced, Williams found the easiest possible target for the three-year-old’s debut, a maiden at Moruya.

With Brodie Loy in the saddle, the horse again defied his poor looks and lacklustre trackwork to win, eliciting glowing praise from a jockey for the second time.

Spelled after finishing third at Wagga, he returned to win first-up at Wellington before Williams brought him to town for a Highway Handicap and snapped up top jockey James Mcdonald.

The horse was Ahead Start and he zoomed down the outside to score impressively, earning himself a shot at Saturday’s $300,000 Inglis Guineas (1400m) at Rosehill.

With McDonald in Brisbane, Jay Ford has the mount and while Williams isn’t expecting to come away with first place, he has learned Ahead Start is full of surprises.

“We’re under no illusions. We know we’re only coming out of Highway form. He is a progressive horse and we’ve got to give him every opportunity,” he said.

Connections were offered $500,000 for Ahead Start after he won the Highway and Williams, who has a 20 per cent stake and has ridden racing’s rollercoaster for many years, would have happily sold.

But the offer was declined because racing, like life, is about more than money.

“I know how vulnerable horses are and you don’t get offered that sort of money very often,” Danny Williams said.

“But one of the owners had lost his sister to cancer only a month before and he bought the horse to race with his father, who has got dementia. It was the first time he was able to take his father to the races last start and he won at Randwick, so it was very emotional for them.

“It’s very difficult to take that away from them for the sake of money.”

And so Ahead Start will round out his preparation in the Guineas, a race connections hope can also double as an audition for a Kosciuszko spot.

The horse has already exceeded Williams’ modest expectations and the trainer has no doubt there is more to come.

“This is his grand final. He will go out to the paddock after this and I’m sure he will come back even better next prep.”

Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au

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