Steve: This is Steve from Calibre Fitness, speaking with Australian champion Jockey, Craig Williams. Without a doubt, Craig has reached the heights of his profession, he's known for his dedication, commitment, enormous work rate and impeccable race preparation. Craig is in huge demand both locally and internationally. How you doing Craig?

Craig: Good thanks, Steve.

Steve: Craig, the average racehorse weighs more than 500kgs and races at a speed of more than 60km/h. A jockey must be extremely fit and strong to control such a powerful animal. Can you take us through a typical training week and what muscles you generally focus on?

Craig: Well Steve, It's probably a pretty hard question to answer briefly. Saying that I come back from a holiday, an injury or time away from racing, the demand on the physical body to ride a racehorse is very, very demanding. I guess when you're at a carnival and everything's going well, you don't really appreciate how fit you are when you are riding horses. But when you do have a break or holiday and come back, you realise all those muscles that work that go with riding race horses. Of course, for me, I generally get back to a core-stretching routine and I have my own routine that I spend about 5 minutes on and I'll probably just do that for the first few days before I actually get back onto a horse. Before I actually get back onto an animal, I have a piece of equipment called an 'equicizer', which is probably the best form of experience of what you're in to endure. So I start off with shorter sessions. First day I'll just do it 3-4 times, and I'd say for about 3 minutes maximum each time. That would probably be broken up into 2 minutes of soft workout, 1 minute of high intensity. Then from then on, I'll work my sessions up to a thoroughbred, to a race, competition or practice.

Steve: You have ridden in horse races around the globe including France, England, Japan, Hong Kong among others. Outside of Australia, what is your favourite race track and meeting?

Craig: I've always loved the Arc De Triumph meeting, but of course, every country is quite unique. Hong Kong has a great international meeting at the start of December and people from all around the world generally turn up there. To go to Dubai in March, not just racing people, but even Celebrities turn up to Dubai in March for the World Cup. Then of course, you can't go past the Melbourne Cup Carnival which is just fantastic. The more I travel now, the more I find that people are so aware of the Melbourne Cup and even target their horses, where before, say when I was in England 10 years ago, it was just known as another handicap race... But now, it's known as a feature to target.

Steve: Yeh, sure. Diet and nutrition are especially important for a Jockey. What is your diet like and do you have diet-free days?

Craig: Well, being a full-time jockey for the past 18 years means that my life is a diet or it's a ritual for my competition, which is racing. Basically everything I eat, whether it be salad or steamed fish or a hamburger or a mars bar, it all equates to what part of the season I'm in, where my body is and what weight I have to perform at. Basically it's just my lifestyle now, so I don't look at it as a diet, I don't tie myself down to it... That's just my lifestyle.

Steve: Sure. What psychological skills have you learnt to get you through multiple races at a meeting over the years?

Craig: I was very fortunate that when I did my apprenticeship in my very early years here in Australia, then I was given the opportunity to go to England and all of a sudden I didn't have my family and support group around me, all of a sudden I had to be my own person and then on the race track, I'd never ridden on those tracks and I started to ride against the world's best jockey's, week in week out. All of a sudden, I gained confidence and rode plenty of winners and from then on it developed to give me the opportunity to get exposure into Hong Kong. Being there, taught me to be the upmost professional on and off the race track. Then coming back to Australia, I felt very comfortable because I knew all the tracks inside and out, what I'd achieved overseas and how I felt as a person on and off the racetrack, I was very confident I could come home and do well. Riding in multiple races in a day is just a part of my routine now and come carnival time it doesn't bother me.

Steve: Being a champion Jockey is hard work, early mornings, watching everything you eat, and frequent travelling. What makes you tick as a jockey and makes all the hard work worthwhile for you?

Craig: Success and trying to be perfect, which is unattainable of course, but that's my driving force and of course now I've got 4 children, so my other driving force to stay in the game at an elite level is to maintain that level long enough for my youngest son to come to the track and watch his dad ride. So that's my driving force for longevity in the game at least.

Steve: Fantastic. You're one of Australia's lightest jockeys. Are there any tricks you use last minute to make correct weight?

Craig: Yeh, the trick is not to do last minute corrections! The trick is proper preparation and planning. There's no other way to do it, to lose the weight and still perform at the highest level.

Steve: Have you endured any particularly bad injuries during your career?

Craig: Yes, it's a long list. I've had a broken scapular, I've had a plate and screws inserted into my right shoulder, I've got a screw in my left middle finger, broke my leg, broke my wrist, cracked my pelvis on both the left and right sides... Just to name a few.

Steve: We interviewed Sam Soliman in one of our recent newsletters and I think you've just listed more injuries than a boxer, haha.

Craig: Well, I can't fight... So you won't get me in the ring that's for sure. I'm a better runner than a fighter, haha.

Steve: The 'International Raiders' have had great success in the Melbourne cup over the years, I would think from a punters perspective it makes picking the winner of the Melbourne Cup even tougher. Do you think that allowing these horses to compete in the Melbourne Cup is good for the sport?

Craig: No Doubt. For any top race, including our biggest known race, the Melbourne Cup, for it to get international exposure, you have to have international horses. The fact that so many target it shows you how good a race it is. The fact that connections are willing to pay a lot of money to bring their horses out here where there is only one winner, but to compete in the Melbourne Cup and to try to get a part of the $6.2 million purse. So far there are 16 horses that have just arrived and there's more coming out, but at the end of the day, there's only one winner, so there's always only one happy connection whether it be from Australia or overseas.

Steve: Sure. You won both the Caulfield cup and the Cox plate last year. How devastated were you to be suspended and forced to miss the Melbourne Cup on winner Dunaden?

Craig: Yeh, I was very, very disappointed. They told me I would have been the first jockey in 150 years to take the 3 out. I didn't know that before then, but I was very confident with Dunaden that he would just go the right way and sure enough he delivered on the day. But again, most importantly we look at the positives and the most important positive point is that we'll try again this year. I'll try harder again this year to win the Melbourne Cup and nobody around me or myself are sick or injured, so most importantly it's going to be on every year again. So I'll try very hard this year to make up for last.

Steve: You are known to be very affectionate to the horses you ride. Who has been your favourite horse to ride and who do you think is the best horse of the modern era?

Craig: Modern era, I'd say it would clearly be a horse called Frankel. I got to see him in the flesh when I was at Royal Ascot earlier this year in England and his dominance on the racetrack was phenomenal. He's also the highest rated horse in the world so it's not just my pick that he's that good. In terms of riding a horse, I've been so lucky to have ridden so many really good horses throughout my whole career. They might not have won group 1's but they won the right races at the right times throughout my career, so it's very hard to pick just one. But of the modern racing scene at this stage, I'd say I've got a great affinity and affection for a horse named Dunaden.

Steve: Yeh sure. What has been the highlight of your career so far or your most memorable win?

Craig: On the racetrack... the big ones are the Cox Plate, Gold Slipper, Caulfield cup... But the ones that are the most memorable for me was when I won races like the Geelong Cup by a horse trained by my father and owned by my brothers, it just gave me so much pride and joy. It felt like you're put up on a pedestal in a family arena and I was just really appreciative of all their support. For where I'm at now, having won 60 races, I just can't go past that.

Steve: Just 2 more questions Craig, what do you think it takes to make a great Jockey?

Craig: Like everything in sport or business or anything. It's a lot of hard work, dedication, determination and I think it's very important to have core strength around you with a good support network and most importantly, you focus on the most important stuff and for me that's family and riding winners, so all the other stuff can be a bit of a deterrent. So, you just need to know what your goals are and not waiver from that.

Steve: ... And finally, who's the horse to watch this Spring Carnival, do you think?

Craig: Pierro, Green Moon and Dunaden look like the right horses, I would say.

Steve: Fantastic. Well, thanks Craig, I really appreciate your time and all the best this Spring Carnival.

Craig: Thanks Steve, Glad to do it!