Phil Williamson has come a long way to trip over the bloke from down the road.

But that is what worries him with 4-year-old trotting guns Irish Whisper and Springbank Sam at today's Harness Jewels.

Oamaru-based Williamson is one of our most successful trotting trainers and has already trained three Jewels winners, which is a great strike rate considering there have been only 15 Jewels trots held.

Today he rates Irish Whisper as his leading chance over Springbank Sam, but another Oamaru horse scares him the most.


Phil's Gift, trained by Murray Tapper, was 60-1 for the Jewels a month ago but has won twice since at Cambridge, leading all the way two starts ago after showing blazing gate speed.

If Phil's Gift begins that quickly again today, and tries for another all-the-way win, it would dent Irish Whisper's chances.

Irish Whisper has had only six starts but looked the real deal when he led and trotted a sensational time at Addington back in March.

"If my fella could lead then he would be hard to beat because he is very fast. He is a top horse in the making.

"But Phil's Gift is quick off the gate and if we both go hard that first 400m then it could set the race up for a swooper."

That wouldn't be a disaster for Williamson as Springbank Sam could be sitting just off the pace. But the prospect of an early burn concerns him with race favourite Thanesan stalking the leaders.

"So a lot is going to depend on the start, it's crucial."

Irish Whisper has been one of the best backed horses at the Jewels, with a $7500 bet on him last Sunday at $4.50.

Others who have been smashed in fixed odds betting include Escapee, which attracted a $10,000 bet pre-draw while Border Control has been backed in from $13 to $5.50 in the 2-year-old Emerald.