Craig Williams has turned to Rod Quinn in Stradbroke Handicap week

Craig Williams has revealed his secret weapon in his hunt for the Stradbroke Handicap – the former jockey star who won six times on the legendary black flash Lonhro.

Williams has turned to Rod Quinn, the nine-time Group 1 winning jockey who steered home more than 2000 career winners, for guidance and mentoring in Stradbroke week.

As Williams prepares to ride Mike Moroney’s Group 1-winning mare Tofane in Saturday’s $1.5m Stradbroke, Quinn is by his side in the Sunshine State.

Melbourne Cup winner Williams is leaning on Quinn to be his valet on raceday but he does much more than organise Williams’ gear.

“Rod is a great friend but he’s also a life mentor for me,” Williams said.

“When he finished riding we met each other in Hong Kong we have spent a lot of time together since then and have built a very good relationship.

“I begged him to come up to Queensland with me. He and his wife were going to have a holiday so it coincided really well.

“Rod is a star and a great judge and we look at identifying certain things in races or with the horses I am riding.

“On raceday itself we don’t dissect too many things, he just says certain words or key things which is all I need to get motivated.”

Rod Quinn after combining with Lonhro to win the Stan Fox Stakes in 2001.Source:News Corp Australia

Quinn had his first race ride at Brewarrina, in country NSW, in 1975.

His favourite Group 1 triumph was on Grand Zulu in the 2004 The BMW, while Lonhro was the best horse he rode.

Lonhro won 11 Group 1s – mainly for Darren Beadman – but Quinn was the man for the job during the horse’s first two career runs and saluted six times from seven starts aboard the champion.

Quinn is also proving a help to Williams in other ways – he will drive Williams to the Sunshine Coast to ride on Wednesday.

Williams quips he would need a GPS to find the Corbould Park circuit otherwise.

Williams will have two ace Group 1 rides at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

He is on Tiger Of Malay for Richard and Michael Freedman in the JJ Atkins and will be trying to replicate his 2007 Stradbroke triumph on Sniper’s Bullet when he rides Tofane in Queensland’s premier race the Stradbroke.

Williams riding Sniper’s Bullet to victory in the 2007 Stradbroke. Picture: Steve PohlnerSource:News Corp Australia

Tofane dodged the sales ring when surging home for second behind Emerald Kingdom in the Group 3 BRC Sprint with connections then deciding to have a crack at the Stradbroke.

Opie Bosson rode Tofane in the BRC Sprint but Williams loved what he saw from Tofane and he chased the ride.

The Stradbroke will be his first ride on Tofane, the five-year-old mare who last year won the Group 1 All Ages Stakes at Randwick.

“After she ran the other day, I said to my manager get me on that horse,” Williams said.

“I love the way that Mike has spaced her runs.

“She will be dropping in weight from the other day when she closed off really well and she is already Group 1 winning mare.

“In a really good Stradbroke, I think she is a very good chance.”

Tofane winning the All Aged Stakes in 2020. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Williams revealed he may yet stay on to ride in Queensland after the Stradbroke, pending Victoria’s COVID-19 situation.

“It depends what happens in Victoria, it’s very fluid and we are monitoring everything,” Williams said.

“If I do decide to stay on and ride up here for a little while, my wife and family are very supportive.”

Originally published asWillo turns to mentor for Stradbroke edge

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