Saturday was a red-letter day in the training career of Christian Williams (photographed) as he won two big races within half an hour.
Firstly, Win My Wings won the four mile-plus Eider Chase at Newcastle, rewarding supporters who backed her from 20/1 overnight to 11/2 at the off. Williams explained, “She scoped not quite right three weeks ago, but we managed to get her back into good form and she was clear two days ago. I took a chance putting on cheekpieces. The owners gave me some stick but I thought she needed to improve a little bit and they might help. She comes to herself in the spring. She won in France last year and we might take her there again.”
The mare was piloted to victory by northern-based former Grand National winning jockey Ryan Mania, who was having his first ride for the stable. She is owned by Monmouth’s Sue Howell, whose Duneomeno won for the stable three days earlier at Ludlow.
There was a huge cheer in the paddock at Kempton, where Williams and groups of his other owners were watching prior to saddling three runners for the £150,000 Coral Trophy. They watched incredulous as two of them led a Welsh 1-2-3 home, Cap Du Nord beating Kitty’s Light with Sam Thomas’s Our Power third.
Cap Du Nord was fifth in the race last year off a 15 pound higher mark. He had come back to form recently and Williams talked his owners out of running at Carlisle earlier in the week. This was by no means the first time he and claimer Jack Tudor have scooped a good prize with a lowly-weighted horse in a competitive handicap. The young jockey is now one winner away from losing his claim, but there can be no doubt that he will still get plenty of rides afterwards.
The second, Kittys Light, was running on well at the end and might even have won but for a bad mistake at the penultimate fence. He has abundant stamina and Kempton wouldn’t have been his ideal course. He’s a small horse and Aintree is unlikely to be on the agenda but the Scottish National and the Bet365 at Sandown, in which he was desperately unlucky last year, are obvious targets.
Our Power, for Sam Thomas, Dai Walters and the Potter Group, stayed on past beaten horses into third place.
The Welsh had been making little impression at Chepstow’s meeting on Saturday until the last three races. Then Rebecca Curtis’s Mr Katanga trotted up by 47 lengths under Ben Jones. The trainer, who also owns the horse, revealed later that he had been so disappointing this was his last chance before being sold as a point-to-pointer. First-time cheekpieces, a big galloping track and 3m2f on heavy going did the trick.
Conditions were so testing that only four out of eleven runners completed the course. Mr Katanga ran off a mark of 87 and the handicapper has a dilemma deciding how much higher to re-rate him. His dam’s sire is a horse called Apple Tree, which is also the grandparent of the similarly-named Dr Kananga, who won over the same course and distance earlier in the month.
In the next race at Chepstow, it was a similar story with four out of eleven finishing. Gats And Co led them home for David and Connor Brace, the winning margin being 14 lengths. It was the yard’s first success under Rules since October. He’s only seven, quite lightly raced and open to further improvement.
In the closing bumper James Davies rode his fifth winner of 2022 on Churchills Boy, trained by Nick Gifford. His father Josh trained plenty of winners with James’s dad Hywel riding.
A David Probert winner at any meeting must be highly likely given the form he’s been in this year. On Saturday evening it came on the 11/4 shot Owen Little for rookie trainer Matt Crawley, whose 12th runner it was, and his second winner. Certainly Probert owes little to his supporters.
Evan Williams said on Saturday that his horses weren’t going particularly well, but his new recruit Bebraveforglory bucked the trend at Hereford the next day. Adam Wedge set out to make the running, new tactics for the horse. He led all the way and though the cavalry were closing fast at the end he held on by a length and three quarters.
Our next fixture at Ffos Las is Wednesday 23rd March – we are offering a special admission package for £25 including a ticket, a racecard, a pie and a pint (advance bookings only).
Don’t forget we also race on Easter Sunday 17th April with children aged 17 and under free of charge and adult tickets £17 in advance. There will be plenty of family entertainment.