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The booking of top jockey Craig Williams has given Joe Pride a confidence boost ahead of the return of Royal Witness in the Carlyon Stakes at Moonee Valley.

The Sydney trainer pinpointed the 1000 metre sprint as an ideal campaign starting point for the speedster and was thrilled to snap up the services of Melbourne’s reigning premier rider.

“I chased him early. I’ve always had a good association with Craig and he has the faith that if I’m taking one south it’s going to be a good, live chance,” Pride said.

“He was more than happy to take the ride for me and that gives me confidence because no-one does more homework than Craig.”

Royal Witness has won six of his 25 starts, all over Saturday’s short-course journey.

While the Listed Starlight Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday is closer to home, Pride says the 1100 metres is a stretch for Royal Witness at this stage of his career.

He also has Easy Eddie and Passage Of Time entered for the Sydney sprint and was keen to split up his team.

“That extra 100 metres for him is a whole new world of pain. He might get it later on but at this stage he is a 1000 metre horse,” Pride said.

“I’ve got the other two in the Starlight as well so there’s no need to over-capitalise.”

Royal Witness returns to Pride after a brief stretch with Toby and Trent Edmonds.

The training partners took over the reins while the horse campaigned in Queensland but he was always slated to head back to Pride at the end of that stint.

Royal Witness has prepared for his resumption with two barrier trial wins and Pride believes he is a sharper horse this time around.

“I’ve seen him trial moderately then come back and race well so to see him trial like he has gives me good confidence he has gone up a cog, which he needs to do because we’re in Listed grade here on Saturday,” he said.

Royal Witness is one of 18 nominations for the Carlyon Stakes, along with speedy pair Sartorial Splendor for John Sadler and the Tony and Calvin McEvoy-trained Meteorite.

Nick Ryan, who won the race three times as a jockey, has entered Express Pass but he is unlikely to get the chance to claim his first Carlyon Stakes as a trainer.

Ryan says he is leaning towards bypassing the Valley meeting in preference for a sprint race at Rosehill on Saturday week.

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