Raging Bull a 16-year dream for his breeder in Spring Champion S.

6 min read
Raging Bull takes on a handy field in the G1 Spring Champion S. this weekend, and his story is remarkable as he’s the product of a 16-year dream by his breeder, paraplegic Alan Williams.

On Saturday, the G1 Spring Champion S. is its usual competitive self with a classy field of 13 horses. They include market fancies Profondo (Deep Impact {Jpn}) and Head Of State (American Pharoah {USA}), as well as last weekend’s G1 Flight S. winner Never Been Kissed (NZ) (Tivaci).

But there’s hardly a better story among them than that of Raging Bull, the 3-year-old gelding by Bull Point who is trained by David Payne.

Raging Bull was bred and is co-owned by paraplegic Alan Williams, who has been building to Saturday’s race for 16 years.

Alan Williams and Sunday Sinners | Image courtesy of Alan Williams

“The horses keep me alive,” Williams said. “They give me a great energy, and they’re all worth a million dollars to me until they prove otherwise. I’ve been breeding for 16 years now, and it’s a lot of homework and study to try to get to the best bloodlines in the world on a limited budget.”

“The horses keep me alive. They give me a great energy, and they’re all worth a million dollars to me until they prove otherwise." - Alan Williams

Raging Bull heads to Saturday’s race with four starts behind him, including a last-start victory at Wyong in late September. He has been in the money in all but one of his races, and has drawn barrier four this weekend with jockey Andrew Adkins.

Hands-on

Raging Bull is from the Danbird mare Sunday Sinners, who is a daughter of the Bluebird (USA) mare Abalone.

Abalone was a very useful broodmare, foaling the Group 3 winner Hurdy Gurdy Man (Street Cry {Ire}) and Listed winner Prize Catch (Zoffany {Ire}), and Sunday Sinners was her sixth foal.

Mare Abalone with Sunday Sinners | Image courtesy of Alan Williams

“I bought Abalone in foal to Danbird, and that foal ended up being Sunday Sinners,” Williams said. “I didn’t race her. At the time, I was up in Queensland and I was in-between moving back to New South Wales, so it didn’t pan out that she got to the track. But I kept her as a broodmare because Hurdy Gurdy Man had started kicking goals.”

Sunday Sinners visited Monaco Consul (NZ) in her first year at stud, and thereafter she went to Bull Point for three straight years. She is the only broodmare that Williams currently has, but that wasn’t always the case.

In 1999, the now 60-year-old Williams was a golf course designer on the rise, a man with a busy lifestyle that demanded plenty of travel and energy. But a motorcycle accident in August that year changed his life irreversibly, and he didn’t walk again.

Alan Williams with Sunday Sinners | Image courtesy of Alan Williams

Everything that he could do was suddenly done from his wheelchair, but Williams is a determined character and, admittedly, sets his bar very high.

For a time, he trained his own horses from a near six-hectare property he used to have in Peachester, Queensland, at a point handling 11 horses. But it wasn’t sustainable in his situation, and he moved back to New South Wales.

“I began selling off my horses and got down to about six,” Williams said. “I ended up just doing it as a hobby because I had to take a backwards step from the hands-on stuff. I had four mares eventually, and then got down to two. Now I just have the one, Sunday Sinners.”

Years in the making

Williams has been in his wheelchair for 22 years, and for 16 of those he’s been breeding thoroughbreds.

“It’s taken me 16 years to get to the bloodline I’ve got now,” he said. “It’s taken that long to get something this good.”

Raging Bull is the second surviving foal from Sunday Sinners.

Her first, Sinpoint, also by Bull Point, is a 4-year-old mare with trainer Darren Hyde at Dubbo. Sinpoint is unraced, and she is the only progeny of Sunday Sinners to date that was sold. Williams sold the horse in 2019 at the Inglis Scone Yearling Sale, where she was bought by John Bannister from the Kingstar Farm draft for $4500.

For the last few years, Kingstar has been very good to Williams, hence the association with its resident stallion Bull Point. It was a nick that worked and that Williams liked, and the breeder has a yearling full-sister to Raging Bull that he is considering keeping.

“It’s taken me 16 years to get to the bloodline I’ve got now." - Alan Williams

This season, Sunday Sinners foaled a filly by Adelaide (Ire), and again Williams is unsure what he’ll do with her. Much of that decision will be down to her brother in the G1 Spring Champion S., and Williams said he’s confident that the gelding will keep tracking in the right direction.

Either way, Saturday's race has been a long time coming for him.

“You’ve got to have your goals,” he said. “Mine are to produce Group winners and city winners and carnival horses, and I’ve finally got one. I’d like to hope Raging Bull will do well on Saturday because he runs a really fast final 600 metres.”

Raging Bull as a foal | Image courtesy of Alan Williams

Point taken

Raging Bull will be Bull Point’s first Group 1 horse on Saturday, which is something that Kingstar Farm is looking forward to. The stallion has entered his sixth season at stud, commanding $6600 (inc GST) this spring, a slight decrease on his previous years’ fees.

“He’s going really well,” said Conor Phelan, nominations manager at Kingstar Farm. “He’s on the cusp of getting a Group horse now.

"He got Encountabull from his first crop, who was beaten by Wild Ruler in a stakes race, and we had Readily Availabull from his second crop. So Bull Point is certainly capable of getting a really good horse from very small crops.”

"Bull Point is certainly capable of getting a really good horse from very small crops.” - Conor Phelan

The stallion has had only 48 runners to date, but of these, 21 have been winners.

“He’s proven that he can get stakes horses, and he’s had plenty of other winners,” Phelan said. “He’s going well in that respect and is in that very good ‘breed to race’ bracket.”

Raging Bull
Spring Champion Stakes
Alan Williams
Conor Phelan
Kingstar Farm