Williams taking next step in training dream

Growing up on The Oaks Stud in Cambridge paved a way for a successful career in the thoroughbred breeding industry for Dean Williams (pictured, left), however, he got the racing bug young and is about to take an important step in fulfilling his dream of becoming a trainer.

The son of The Oaks Stud General Manager Rick Williams, the thoroughbred industry has been engrained in Dean’s life from a young age, but it was the deeds of glamour mare Seachange on the track that lit a fire in him to pursue a career in the racing side of the industry instead of following in his father’s footsteps. 

“I fell in love with the racing side, probably thanks to Seachange and horses like Artistic and Darci Brahma,” Dean Williams said. “Despite some very good efforts from my parents for a number of years of trying to steer me in a different direction, which probably would have been a good financial decision, I think I was always going to head in this direction (racing).”

Williams first worked for local trainer Stephen Marsh before becoming racing manager for Tony Pike and subsequently moved to Melbourne to work at Mike Moroney’s Flemington barn. Like most Kiwis, he then decided to head to Europe where he worked for leading Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien at his Owning Hill stable.

It was just four months into working for O’Brien that Williams received an offer he couldn’t refuse from Flemington trainer Steve Richards – return to Melbourne to become his assistant trainer with a view to entering a training partnership down the line.

Williams duly accepted the offer and has made his way back to Australia to take up the exciting opportunity with the Group One-winning trainer, and he is currently going through the process of applying for his assistant trainer’s license.

Williams first became associated with Richards when his former employer Tony Pike was campaigning The Bostonian in Melbourne, and he became better acquainted with him when working at Flemington for Moroney, where the idea of a partnership was born.

“When I was working for Tony Pike, we were bringing The Bostonian and a few other horses over to Melbourne and needed a place to stay. I was told that Steve Richards might have a couple of spare boxes, so I rang him and he was more than happy to look after us,” Williams said.

“Our horses went over with Chris McNab (stable foreman) and he said how great a bloke he was to deal with and he had nothing but good things to say about him.

“When I came to Melbourne to work for Mike Moroney, Steve was one of the first people I introduced myself to and we struck up a good relationship from day dot. It (partnership) was spoken about very briefly before I went overseas and he became a bit more serious about me joining forces with him a couple of months into my European stint.

“I had a good chat with Steve and I had put it to him that I was keen to take on more responsibility and he was at the point where he wanted someone young there to help drive the business and bring in some new owners.

“In his heyday, when he was training 40 or 50 horses, most of them were owned by one person, and in this day and age every horse is now syndicated, and it is a different approach to buying and selling horses. In that respect, I think he and I can work well together because I have been lucky enough with Tony and even at Mike’s to do quite a bit in bringing owners in and help syndicate horses.

“We both had the same idea and it was all just a matter of me saying I would come back. I have been here two weeks now.”

Williams is looking forward to what the future holds and is excited by the challenge of getting the stable to a point where he can enter a training partnership with Richards.

“It will all depend on what happens in the next 12 to 18 months,” he said. “An assistant trainer’s license is always a good help, but we will certainly need to get numbers up and acquiring more boxes would be a big help as well.”

Williams has already been active in trying to boost the stable’s numbers, purchasing yearlings at both New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling sale in January and Inglis’ Premier Yearling Sale in Melbourne.

“We have managed to get five yearlings so far over Karaka and Melbourne, and we are looking at heading to Sydney Easter as well,” Williams said.

Williams said friends and family have been a huge support, along with The Oaks Stud principal Dick Karreman, who has been a major backer in Williams’ purchases.

While enjoying his new opportunity in Melbourne, Williams looks fondly back on his time in Europe where he was instrumental in organising Swedish jockey Per-Anders Graberg to head to New Zealand for a riding stint, and enjoyed his time in Ireland working for O’Brien.

“I travelled for the first month in Europe and went to the Stockholm Cup, that is where I met Per-Anders Graberg and talked with him about heading to New Zealand to do a riding stint,” Williams said.

“I went to the Arc before heading to Ireland and spent four months at Joseph’s. I couldn’t speaker high enough of the man, he was incredibly good to me and is amazing to all of his staff. You can see why he had plenty of staff in a time of getting them is really hard.

“There were 300 horses on the hill and the place runs like a well-oiled machine. I couldn’t have learnt anymore in four months, it was a great experience. I had so many memories in such a short time.

“I would have loved to have stayed for the Cheltenham Festival and even Royal Ascot but when Steve and I got serious about teaming up, it was a no-brainer to get back to Karaka and meet a few people and start getting some yearlings in the stable.”

While just a short time into his new venture, Williams said he pinches himself every day when he gets to go to work at one of the most iconic racing venues in the world.

“To be at Flemington every morning is a pretty easy place to wake up to and you are surrounded by quality horses,” he said. “Across from us is Godolphin, and you have got the likes of Waterhouse, Chris Waller, and Nick Ryan. It is pretty unbelievable really.”

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk


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