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Craig Williams has escaped any charge over his controversial ride on odds-on favourite Nature Strip at Caulfield.

At an adjourned inquiry on Thursday, Racing Victoria stewards decided not to take any action against the jockey who rode Nature Strip into second place in the VOBIS Gold Dash on Saturday.

They took further evidence from Williams and Nature Strip’s trainer John Sadler.

Stewards agreed with evidence put forward by Sadler that Williams had erred by not allowing Nature Strip to stride forward in the first 150m of the race to at least gain a position behind eventual leader, and winner, Sam’s Image.

The stewards were of the view that Williams’ decision not to do so was influenced by Nature Strip being slow into stride, and that part of his instructions were not to get involved in a ‘speed battle’.

Williams also emphasised he decided not to ride his mount along early as the gelding would over-race, as he ultimately did after being crossed by Southern Turf near the 800m mark.

While stewards believed Williams had erred in his ride, they could not be satisfied in all the circumstances the error reached the requisite standard of proof for the stewards to successfully prosecute a charge of “failing to take all reasonable and permissible measures throughout the race to ensure his mount wins or obtains the best possible placing at the end of a race”.

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