NSW country racing’s Cinderella story of 2022 was no doubt Shelby Sixtysix, and the very popular Goulburn galloper is nearing a much-anticipated return to the racetrack.
The Danny Williams-trained gelding, which came out and won the Group 1 Galaxy and Group 3 McCarten, while also finishing second in the Group 2 Challenge Stake back in March, hasn’t been seen at the races since May.
Following a spell, the six-year-old Toronado gelding has won back-to-back trials at Moruya on August 14 and Wagga on August 25.
Following the two trial wins, Williams is confident he has Shelby Sixtysix firing on all six cylinders ahead of a preparation that will include targets such as the Group 3 Concorde Stakes on September 3, the Group 2 The Shorts on September 17, and either the Group 3 Sydney Stakes or The TAB Everest on October 15.
“He will run in the Concorde to start with, and I believe Eduardo will also run in that race,” Williams told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.
“He needed the trial the other day, but he is improving all the time and whatever he does in The Concord; he will appreciate the fitness heading into his next race because it takes him a while to get fit.
“Hopefully he runs well enough to gain a point or two to so we can progress to The Shorts, and we will go from there.
“Ultimately the Sydney Stakes on Everest Day is our main goal, but he may not get a run, so we hope to do well in The Concord and Shorts and go from there.”
Williams is happy with the popular country galloper’ s progression, but he conceded it took some time to get him fit, which is why he has had the two public trials.
“He has come up really well, and I’m happy with the horse, but it is just a matter of getting him fit enough between now and those two races,” Williams said.
Connections are dreaming of a start in the $15 million TAB Everest, and Williams hopes Shelby Sixtysix can show his worth when contesting upcoming Group races and potentially gain a slot..
“It would be nice to get an Everest start, and if he comes out and wins one of those first two races, he might, but we know he would have to be at his best to do that,” Williams said.
“We went to the well with him last prep, and he pulled up quite lame and the wheels fell off a little bit, but he enjoyed his spell, and he has come back in really good order, and we can’t wait to have him back racing.”
Williams’ team have enjoyed a splendid run over the past six months, and with the likes of Jalmari and Bandi’s Boy resuming in town last Saturday, and with Rent a Rock and Ribeauville winning at Wagga on Thursday, the veteran trainer admitted it was a good time for him and his hard-working team.
“We are still pinching ourselves after the autumn,” Williams said.
“It’s not just Shelby Sixtysix either, but what Jalmari and Bandi’s Boy did on the track.
“I know how tough it is to get that calibre of horse, and sometimes you wait years to get those horses, and sometimes you never get them, but to have them all resuming, it is very exciting.”
As a result of Williams’ good form in 2022, he was awarded the media personality of the year, an award named in honour of respected journalist Caryl Williamson, at the Racing NSW awards for excellence.
Additionally, Shelby Sixtysix won the NSW Racehorse owner’s award as NSW country champion horse of the year.