To say the jockey Luke Williams has a colourful background would be an understatement … but the rider who has seen quite a bit of the dark side of life owns his past and that acceptance of some ‘bad decision making,’ to use his own words, has help turn his life around so that he is in a much better place now than he was some time ago.
Life tends to reward those who make the effort and Williams scored big time at Warrnambool on Sunday when he guided Count Zero to victory in the Jericho Cup … at 4600m, the longest flat race in Australia … with guided being the optimum word.
“I walked the track beforehand,” said Williams, speaking on the After The Last program on racing.com, “and I found a few little spots. I thought if I could get to those spots, I would be a bit of a chance even on a rough shot because I was going to make so much ground. When you are on a good 4 track and everyone else is on a heavy 8, it makes a lot of difference.
“When I got to the 700m mark I thought, ‘this horse is going alright.’ I also had faith in Symon Wilde (Count Zero’s trainer). He told me the horse was fit and I trust Symon with all I’ve got. Symon had said to me that this horse is a sneaky chance … don’t think you are just going around for the riding fees.
“I hadn’t even moved on him and he had just made up so much ground. He was just travelling,” continued Williams. “I let him go went he wanted to go as he was getting into his rhythm. If I’d made him wait just that bit more he wouldn’t have got that final kick … so I said ‘let’s go son.’
Williams had successfully guided Count Zero along the path he had targeted. The race was now there for the taking … and Williams and Count Zero needed no second asking.
The result could not have been more emphatic with the winning margin being 4.50 lengths as Count Zero won at a starting price of $26.
A big win. A measured celebration … and Williams was back at the grindstone early the next morning.
“I’ve been very blessed,” said Williams. “I’ve had a lot of help (working through problems) from a lot of very good people, so I’m very thankful for that.
“There was no one turning point in my life. It was that support from different people at different times that has made the difference and I have a great support base around me all of the time now. People I can go to whenever I need to talk about something
“It has just been a beautiful, gradual climb out of it (the bad times). If you look at the graph it looks pretty good, but I’d go up … and then have a few stumbles … and then I climb up again, but the line has always been on the incline for some time now and I’m very confident I can keep it going that way.
“I’ve never been in the place mentally that I am at the moment.
“It has been pretty well documented throughout my career that, through bad decision making and battling addiction and the rest of it, I really haven’t fulfilled the promise that I probably should have so far … but, my life is on a different platform now so hopefully I can keep going, get my weight in order and tick more of those boxes moving forward,” concluded Williams.