A day to remember for Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch
The outstanding form of trainer-rider partnership of Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch continued today in what will prove a long-cherished memorable day two of the Cheltenham Festival.
L’Homme Presse set the tone by standing his ground in a Brown Advisory Novices Steeplechase after the withdrawal of Bravemansgame due to the ground, and his supremacy was never truly challenged in a race that was always within his grasp. In winning by 3 1/2l, he secured a first Festival Grade I victory for one of the Weighing Room’s most understated horsemen.
Venetia Williams is no stranger to Festival success – this was her sixth success – but rarely has the calibre of her horses been sufficient to graduate from handicap to graded status. L’Homme Presse has already been quoted at 14/1 for next year’s Gold Cup. A word of warning however; you can only win against the opposition lined up against you. The race was badly holed by the withdrawal of Bravemansgame and trainer Paul Nicholls wasn’t the only one scratching his head on the executive’s decision to apply watering in the face of a forecast of rain. Being a Clerk is a thankless task, but this looked a wrong-footed move.
The day was, however, far from over for the Williams-Deutsch pairing. The diminutive Funambule Sivola gave Energumene a run for his money in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, running on to see off all other aristocrats of the 2m division bar the winner, including two former winners of this same race. There will be a big race in this horse yet. It was another race in which ground figured; Nube Negra was withdrawn early in the day, whilst Shishkin never rose to the challenge in the conditions.
The time of the Grand Annual told a story of the deteriorating conditions, with a time 20 seconds slower than standard. Nevertheless, the Kings Caple team excelled once again with a running-on third from Frero Banbou, 6l behind winner Global Citizen.
So, a 1-2-3 from three runners – not a bad’s day’s work.
Charlie Deutsch has enjoyed a breakthrough season. For a young man who only a few years ago was ruing a poor decision with a couple of months inside, he has repaid the loyalty of trainers and owners he rides for in spades. His quiet riding style is winning more and more admirers among horsemen, even if his finish lacks the drive of a McCoy or a Scudamore. More importantly, he looks after his horses. This innate intelligence is one reason why he is enjoying a personal best season, with twice the prize money won of his most successful previous attempt.
Williams and Deutsch together are putting Herefordshire on the map.