When the eight-year-old gelding Stormy Dee broke his maiden status in taking out the last race at Northam on Saturday night Wundowie trainer Mike Williams and his wife Sue had smiles befitting a Powerball winner.
Sue Williams bred Stormy Dee and at times had despaired of the horse ever getting to the race-track let alone joining the list of winners she has bred over the past 15 years.
"He was born in a violent storm which is where he got his name and he has been a handful all the way through. I was hoping that he would have been born on Armistice Day but he was a day early being foaled on 10th November 2011. The synergy of being born on the 11th day of the 11th month in 2011 may have had a calming effect but he beat even that", Sue laughed. "He has been handled from day one but he was just wild and he was nearly a 6yo before we could get a cart on him".
Somewhat ironically, when they eventually managed to get him in the cart Stormy Dee paced faultlessly. Standing more than 17 hands high, Stormy Dee is by the imported Stonebridge Regal from a mare called Leica La Dee Da which Sue bred from the former smart mare Miss Jenni Dee which won six races at Gloucester Park including the 3yo Pink Diamond Classic.
Miss Jenni Dee was trained by Les Williams and driven by Mike Williams and she produced four winners at stud including Leica La Dee Da, who used to fight everything that Mike Williams tried to do with her and even succeeded in twice kicking him out of the cart. It was a trait she passed onto her son and it took Mike and Sue more than a month just to get a halter on him and they then faced the issue of getting harness on him.
"He didn't seem to trust humans and it just took interminable patience to win him over and gain his confidence and Mike is over the moon with how far the horse has come", Sue said.
It wasn't until July this year that Mike Williams took Stormy Dee to trials at Northam and he made his debut at Northam on August 17 when he finished sixth to Theycall Me Stooge. He improved at his second race-start a fortnight later to finish a close up third to Sono Abruzzese and then broke through at his third start last Saturday after racing outside the leader. Stormy Dee has been driven in all three race starts by promising young driver Emily Suvaljko.
"At this stage I think he is probably better suited by racing in the breeze as at his previous start he seemed to struggle to stay on the back of the horse in front of him", she said.
Stormy Dee is raced by Sue Williams in partnership with her sons Brenton and Jason and their partners Gemma Bubb and Lara Borwick along with friends Riwai and Linda Williams. Riwai, who isn't a relation, took a shine to Stormy Dee some years ago when visiting the Williams property.
"Riwai would visit another horse he had in work at the time with Mike and often saw the wild, unbroken Stormy in his paddock" Sue recalled. "The horse would only come close enough to peer at Riwai and snort, then turn and run away. Riwai was always adamant he would take a share in Stormy once he was broken in".
Forward some years later, and two weeks before going to trials, Sue called Riwai to offer him the share she had always promised. Riwai and his wife Linda were thrilled to take a share each in the horse.
"We will all be thrilled even if he only wins another race or two. I nearly cry when I think of what we have been through with Stormy over the years", Sue said.
Bill Horn celebrates 87th birthday in style
Mandogalup trainer Bill Horn brought up career winner number 519 when the $21.00 chance Theycall Me Stooge, driven by Horn's good mate Colin Brown, won at Northam on Saturday night.
Horn, who became known nationally 30 years ago as the trainer of the legendary Village Kid, turns 87 tomorrow although he celebrated the birthday yesterday with family. Theycall Me Stooge's great-grand-dam is a half-sister to Village Kid while his grand-dam is by Tricky Dick - a half-brother to Gramatan which was the sire of Village Kid. While he has now won two races Stooge has some way to go to match the 93 wins and $2,117,870 put together by Village Kid during a remarkable career.