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Royal Pagaille set for second shot at Gold Cup

Hertfordshire-based trainer Venetia Williams will be hoping Royal Pagaille steps up on the form he showed last season, which would put him in the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture once again. Williams, who regularly has runners at Ludlow, has done an excellent job with her French recruit. The horse arrived in her yard in January 2020. Last season, he won three races on the bounce, including the Grade II Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock by an emphatic 16 lengths.

Unfortunately for connections of the talented chaser, he could only finish sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, won by Minella Indo. Despite his inexperience, his owners opted for the blue riband over other races at the meeting, as they have a lot of confidence in their horse.

Royal Pagaille is 40/1 in the horse racing betting for the 2022 Gold Cup. He will have more experience over fences by the time the meeting comes around in March. The field will likely include many of the runners who contested the 3m 2½f contest earlier this year.

Seasonal reappearance could come at Newbury

Williams’ chaser has yet to appear so far in the 2021/22 season, but his opening start may come at Newbury at the end of November. He has an entry in a Grade III affair at the Berkshire racecourse.

Royal Pagaille now has a handicap rating of 163, so if he does run in a handicap, will likely need to concede a lot of weight to his rivals. It may be that he lines up in graded action throughout the upcoming season, where conditions will be more favourable. The path towards Cheltenham is likely to be drawn up after his race at Newbury. Trials Day at Cheltenham is a possibility for the chaser, while he may feature in the Denman Chase, also at Newbury, in February.

Williams bidding for first Gold Cup

The most notable success in Williams’ career was her victory in the 2009 Grand National with Mon Mome. At the time, she became only the second female trainer to win the world’s most famous steeplechase.

Mon Mome was one of the biggest priced winners of the Grand National in history. He later came home third in the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup, another big performance from the chaser from Aramstone Stables.

If Royal Pagaille can go on to prevail in the Gold Cup in 2022, it would rank alongside Williams’ Aintree triumph. She has not had many runners in the feature race of the Cheltenham Festival in her career. One of her best chances came in 1999 with Teeton Mill. Her horse won the King George VI Chase earlier that season and went into Cheltenham with strong claims after straight wins in the Badger Beer, Hennessy Gold Cup, King George and Ascot Chase. I recall Venetia being mobbed during a press visit I arranged on her behalf to take the pressure off her staff. Never before or since have 100+ journalists descended upon rural Herefordshire so hungry for another grey success at Cheltenham!

Unfortunately for Williams, it wasn’t to be. Teeton Mill was pulled up after the 10th fence.

Williams has made a strong start to the season, and she will be hoping it ends in major glory with her talented chaser.  He clearly has a big future ahead over fences.

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