“Evan Williams is my trainer of the year,” said Ed Chamberlain said on ITV4’s racing programme at the weekend, after watching Prime Venture win the £100,000 Unibet Veterans Chase Final under Adam Wedge. This was a fourth big-race Saturday for the Vale of Glamorgan maestro following successes with Dans Le Vent, Coole Cody and Annsam in the last seven weeks. These have helped to keep spirits up at the yard while it was afflicted by the sad losses of Silver Streak and another good horse, Star Gate, last month.
Oddly for a Veterans Chase finalist, it was only the second time the eleven-year-old had won over fences; the other occasion was a three-horse race at Sedgefield. Prime Venture is a prime stayer, because he never threatened until after the penultimate fence, where he ran on so well it looked as if he’d only just joined in. Buywise had won the 2018 race for the same yard.
Evan pondered afterwards that he may have concentrated too much on getting the horse to the Welsh and Midlands Nationals, races in which he finished fourth twice and fifth
He expressed gratitude to Prime Venture’s owner Janet Davies, whose dark green and white colours are familiar sights on Welsh racecourses. She is one of Williams’ loyal owners that keeps horses with him year after year.
Evan was also among the winners at our opening 2022 fixture at Ffos Las last Wednesday – he took the opening race with Pageant Material ridden by his daughter Isabel. The third race also went his way when Howdyalikemenow scored under Adam Wedge.
David Probert had a good weekend with a winner at Kempton on Saturday and Southwell on Sunday. Meanwhile the Bowen brothers were riding at Ayr, and Sean won the bumper on the Gordon Elliott-trained Burn The Evidence.
Chepstow’s meeting on Thursday included a race named in honour of Ebbw Vale based trainer Dai Burchell, who recently announced he would retire at the end of January. He will be 85 next month. He had no background in racing, but his interest was spurred by going to flapping meetings in his youth and riding as an amateur alongside the likes of David Nicholson. His first ride at Chepstow was a winner.
He started training on the slopes above Ebbw Vale in 1983 after being laid off from his job at the steelworks. Asked how he learned the business, he said nonchalantly, “You just learn, don’t you. They get fit on their own, just riding them round the mountain.” He trained some 350 winners under National Hunt Rules.
Our next fixture is Tuesday 1st February and we await a decision from the Welsh Government regarding the attendance of spectators. Looking ahead we have Kaiser Chiefs Race Night on Thursday 2nd June – tickets are available for £37.50p.