Sam Williams has multiple reasons to put that familiar smile back on his dial.
Last Friday Per Incanto arrived back at Little Avondale Stud in full recovery mode from an injury that threatened to rule him out of the 2023 breeding season. Next day at Hastings the star stallion’s emerging son Jimmysstar carried the LA colours to an impressive win, his second from three starts.
On an even more personal level, Williams is coming out the other side of a battle with cancer, ready to pick up the reins and get back to the only job he knows, studmaster.
“It’s been a tough time the past little while, but things are getting back to where they should be,” Williams told RaceForm earlier this week. “I’ve had my own issues and it was tough having to undergo treatment, but that’s behind me now.
“The best thing that’s happened for a while was Per Incanto arriving back home on Friday. Just like me he’s been through a fair bit, and to have him back was just the best thing for all of us here.”
Six weeks ago Per Incanto had to be sent to Cambridge for intensive veterinary care after a hind leg injury suffered in a paddock accident flared up in spite of the steps already taken. The efforts of Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre personnel led by Greg Quinn and Laurinda Oliver along with valued input from Cambridge Stud turned a potentially disastrous situation around.
“I can’t say enough about the response from so many people in this wonderful industry who have stepped up during such a difficult time,” Williams continued. “The number of good people who have reached out, it’s been so humbling and yet another reminder of how much we care for each other and our horses when the need arises.
“The team at Waikato Vets stepped up in what was a pretty dire situation and turned PI around; we’ll forever be grateful to the work Greg, Laurinda and their team put in. Then for Henry (Plumptre) and the guys at Cambridge Stud to reach out and offer to care for the horse as if he was one of their own while he was being treated – it’s impossible to put into words what that has all meant.
“It was great to get the word from the vets that he was good to go and then on Friday to see the Cambridge Stud truck pull in the gate and our man walk down the ramp and realise he was home – there was no better feeling when that happened.”
Williams is optimistically predicting that Per Incanto will be ready to commence duties in another week or so, but that must come with a caveat. Originally set to stand for the second year at $50,000 off the back of continuing outstanding results in New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong, that is now off the table and he will be restricted to mares belonging to shareholders.
“As always the horse comes first and given where things were at six weeks ago, I’m thrilled to say that he will at least be able to cover shareholders’ mares,” Williams said on Monday. “He’s still having to be bandaged but we’ve just changed it and everything’s looking good. The wound is closing all the time and we’re at a point where he should be good to go some time next week.”
As for his own welfare, Williams is looking forward to resuming daily routines, while acknowledging it will be a step-by-step process in his recovery.
“Everyone here has stepped up and done an amazing job while I’ve been having treatment. Gary Mudgway, one of my mates going back to his years at Cambridge Stud, dropped everything and came back from Aussie to fill my shoes. Mudge has been an absolute star – just another example of how generous people have been.
“I’m up for what’s ahead, we’re all coming out the other side. It will be great to see Per Incanto back in business and let’s not forget Time Test just keeps leaving winners. At $10,000 he’s got to be one of the value stallions for 2023,” Williams adds with true studmaster-speak.
Roch ’N’ Horse, Little Avondale’s star performer with her Flemington Group One sprint double, is due to be served by last season’s champion stallion Proisir, while fellow Per Incanto mare Belluci Babe, a Group Three winner in Sydney, has already been covered by the Rich Hill headliner.
“We’ve got three mares going to Proisir – the other one is closely related to Legarto – so they’re in good hands up in the Waikato.”