Super Saturday, as the Australian Cup and Newmarket Handicap meeting at Flemington is known, has not been that kind to Craig Williams.
The nine-time Melbourne premiership winning jockey is winless in the Newmarket and has only one win in the Australian Cup, Niconero in 2009.
But Williams has the chance to remedy that on Saturday when he rides $2.15 favourite September Run in the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) and $6.50 second favourite Paradee in the Australian Cup (2000m).
A late entry fee was required to run Paradee after the mare was considered little chance of being ready after scoring dual victories at the Gold Coast in January.
Williams was aboard the Danny O’Brien-trained mare in both wins and cannot believe the improvement Paradee has made leading into the Australian Cup.
Last spring the O’Brien team had the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington as her target in which she ultimately finished second behind Affair To Remember.
But the trip north to the Gold Coast has added an extra element to Paradee who returned home to claim the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 20 and a shot at the Australian Cup.
Unfortunately for Williams, he missed that race through suspension.
“I remember when I won on her the second time at the Gold Coast, the Matriarch was her target last spring, and I said to Danny that we can now aim a lot higher than the Matriarch the way she is going,” Williams said.
“She’s now got the confidence.
“She was not going to that lead-up race (Peter Young), but she had worked that well for the stable, that Danny wanted to go there.
“He was that confident the way she had come back from Queensland and he was proven correct by that performance.”