The Welsh Horse Racing Awards at Chepstow Racecourse on Friday evening were especially remarkable for the number of people being honoured who were also successful on the racecourse on Saturday.
Evan Williams (the Jump Trainer of the Year, who has in his stables the Hurdler of the Year Silver Streak and Chaser of the Year Secret Reprieve) combined with daughter Isabel (photographed) to take a Grade 3 three mile hurdle at Haydock with Dans Le Vent. She rode a confident waiting race on a horse having his first try at that distance. He won going away, and as Evan said after the race, “He needs to be ridden that way and Isabel is a big part of it. I thought going up to three miles was stupid, but I'm a dinosaur and it's a good job the kids are there to point me in the right direction.” The first prize of £56,000 was a lovely early Christmas present for Dans Le Vent’s Cardiff based owner Roger Gambarini.
Later on the Haydock card Strictlyadancer completed a hat-trick of wins for Christian Williams (whose Kitty’s Light took the Rising Star Award). Jack Tudor was in the plate, with his allowance contributing to the 21 pound weight advantage enjoyed by his mount over the second and third.
At Ascot Before Midnight won his second big pot in a month for Sam Thomas. He followed up his Cheltenham success in October under a tenacious ride from Sam Twiston-Davies. He’s jointly owned by Dai Walters (Contribution to Welsh Racing award) and James and Jean Potter (National Hunt owners of the year). Before Midnight has now won his owners £75,000 in prize money from his last two victories.
David Evans (leading Flat trainer, and trainer of Rohaan, the Flat horse of the Year), united with his old ally Adam Kirby to score at Lingfield with Delta River. He’d failed to finish in three hurdle races in the spring for another yard. Evans promptly ran him over seven furlongs and he finished second, beaten by only a short head. Things did not go to plan after that until now, when dropped into Class 6 for the first time he was able to break his duck at the 14th attempt.
Though David Probert was an obvious choice for the Flat Jockey of the Year, the Welsh apprentice Mollie Phillips gained a Special Recognition Award for her growing tally of winners on the level. She added to that total with Rose Hip at Lingfield, forcing the mare ahead in the final stride to notch her 25th winner of the year.
Evan and Isabel Williams kept the ball rolling on Sunday, when their Balkardy proved more determined than his idling rival in a close finish in an Exeter handicap hurdle.
Rebecca Curtis, winnerless since July, had an across-the-card double on Sunday within the space of ten minutes. Her Beatthebullet ground out a victory in a three runner chase at Exeter under Sean Bowen (Jump Jockey award winner). After a promising novice hurdling career Curtis’s Geordie Des Champs didn’t prosper over fences and then had to have two whole years on the sidelines. He’s ten now, but has been making up for lost time in 2021 by winning three times over hurdles, the latest of them at Uttoxeter with Adam Wedge in the saddle.
Our final meeting of 2021 at Ffos Las is Christmas Jumper Race Day on Thursday 16th December. The first of seven races is off at 12.10pm.