The Welsh highlight of the Cheltenham Festival was the victory of Coole Cody for Vale of Glamorgan trainer Evan Williams (photographed) and owner Wayne Clifford.
Evan described the horse as “an absolute warrior” after the race. Coole Cody was now won almost £300,00 in prize money which includes success in three major Cheltenham handicaps since November 2020.
The gelding, who was ridden by Adam Wedge, doesn’t have a typical background for winning at the Cheltenham Festival. He tends to jump a bit to the right, and didn’t win a novice chase until he was nine. Now he’s eleven, and for a horse of that age to have the enthusiasm and ability to rally after being headed is a testament to Williams’ training skills.
He didn’t join the yard until August 2020. Prior to that he was a good hurdler, and though he’d won a point-to-point in 2016 he ran so poorly in a couple of novice chases two years later that he was put back to the smaller obstacles, seemingly for good.
For his first outing for the Williams stable he was tried over fences at Newton Abbot and won easily. Since then he’s got to like running at Cheltenham. On his fourth start he won the Paddy Power Gold Cup. Last year at the Festival, he was a close fourth in the Plate behind The Shunter. He might have won the latest Paddy Power but for falling but made amends by winning the big handicap over the same distance a month later.
Last week’s victory was Williams’ second Festival success, and also the second for Adam Wedge, who went to Kempton on Saturday to steer Emma Lavelle’s Killer Clown to victory.
Wedge had ridden Lisnagar Oscar to win the Stayers Hurdle for Rebecca Curtis two years ago. She should be credited for running two horses in last week’s National Hunt Chase when no other British trainer wanted to take on the Irish. Hers had little chance on the book, but they completed the course safely and picked up a total of £12,000 in prize money.
Sam Thomas has reported that his Coral Welsh Grand National winner Iwilldoit has been put away for the season prior to being aimed at the race again this year.
On Saturday James Bowen rode Issuing Authority to win the Uttoxeter bumper for Nicky Henderson. The next day at Chepstow he was leading on stablemate Emir Sacree when nearly sent into orbit at the last fence due to his mount’s clumsiness, but the partnership was preserved and he won quite easily. Bowen’s strike rate for Henderson this season is now 21%.
The results at Chepstow went well for other Welsh jockeys.
Richard Patrick won the opener on a Kerry Lee novice Pimlico Point and the 3m2f chase went to Gats And Co for David and Connor Brace. A ten pound hike in the weights for a facile course and distance win three weeks ago didn’t prevent the horse from recording a similarly easy win.
Lorcan Williams won the mares’ hurdle in a canter aboard the Jeremy Scott-trained Kissesforkatie. Riding with great confidence, he waited till the final flight before asking her to take the lead. She’ll hardly know she had a race. Williams used different tactics in the bumper, making all the running on the favourite, Knowsley Road trained by Paul Nicholls.
Our next fixture at Ffos Las is this Wednesday 23rd March when students from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David will be assisting with the management of the racecourse as part of an academic project related to hospitality and tourism.
Gates open at 11.55am and there are seven races from 1.55pm and tickets are £17 in advance and £19 on the day. Restaurant packages are also available and can be booked via the website. In April we race twice on the 7th and 17th (Easter Sunday).