Tide is in for trainers named Williams
The wet January has maintained the welcome increase in the volume of runners at our fixtures, to the extent that 68 ran across our seven race card last week to blow away the New Year cobwebs. And whilst many are back at work, those that attended were treated to some close finishes to raise the heartrate.
The feature race of the day was the Plyvine Caterers Handicap Chase, a race won by some aspiring handicappers like Quick Wave and Dragon d’Estruval in its most recent incarnations. It is hope that representatives of our caterers here at Ludlow could take time away from serving clients to appreciate a gripping race where any one of four could have won over the last three fences. Course and distance winner Tide Times, already twice a winner around Ludlow last season, prevailed under a typically strong ride from Charlie Todd, but was lucky that a final fence blunder by Head To The Stars put paid to his chances. Even then Ree Oka was running on strongly to make the winning distance a rapidly diminishing 1/2l. It was the first of three winners by trainers called Williams.
Winning trainer Ian Williams has had a quiet season to date with his jumpers, but Tide Times is in his element in these conditions and around Ludlow. There will be short odds that Williams is scouring the racing calendar for a similar race here. Less than 30 minutes earlier, Williams had enjoyed a rather more valuable winner at Meydan.
Williams might have seen the opportunity for a double half an hour later when Sirobbie led the 6 runners into the straight in the RacingUK Handicap Hurdle, a qualifier for the Challenger Stayers Final. Pressed by Fergal O’Brien’s Hurricane Harvey, the two were locked together over the last, but when Sirobbie took the rails position, forcing Jack Hogan on Hurricane Harvey to switch to the outer, Hogan found more from his mount to lead by 3/4l at the line. This was the Ravenswell maestro’s 102nd winner of the term, and he looks set to exceed his previous best of 128. Either way, his owners are happy as he’s earned them over ┬ú1m in prize money to date, with barely a Saturday race among that tally.
Venetia Williams has her string in fine form still, and whilst her big race candidates over Christmas didn’t quite land the Number One slot, she has every reason to be well pleased with their performances. Fire Dancer continued this fine run of form with an impressive front-running performance┬á in the Simply Delicious Novices Handicap Chase that nearly ran out of steam on the line as the fast-finishing Henry Oliver – trained Striking Out was finishing like a train under David Noonan. Fire Dancer was entitled to a run; he hadn’t run for over 800 days. Both first and second should be winning again soon.
The final Williams – trained winner came in the Vobe Electricals Juvenile Hurdle, when French-bred Romancero Le Dun ran the finish out of pillar to post leader Admiralty House in the final strides for Devon – based Jane Williams. This is a time of year when ante post slips for unknown candidates in the Triumph or Fred Winter can provide much needed joy duding the build up to Cheltenham. This was Romancero Le Dun’s second win from 3 runs, but with an official rating of 119, he has a bit to prove yet. There was much to like about the way he stuck to his task and ran straight though. Jane Williams is in the best of form too; this was a fifth winner from 12 runners since the turn of the year, and three of the remaining 9 have filled the runner-up berth.
The other juvenile race on the card, restricted to National Hunt candidates who haven’t run on the flat, saw a confident win from Jamie Moore on his father’s Spirit, d’Aunou, who shrugged off 10/11 favouritism with an accomplished 8l victory from Javert d’Allen for Jane Williams. The Moore stable is doing a great job of flying the flag for Jump racing in the South East, where successful Jumps yards are now like hen’s teeth, more’s the pity.
Half an hour later, Egbert broke his duck in the maiden hurdle for Alan King and long-serving owners James and Jean Potter. Barbury’s master trainer has totted up 36 winners this season without most hitting the news, Edwardstone excepted, and is well on course to exceed last year’s earnings of ┬ú1.3m, but the yard’s emphasis is as much on the flat now as Jumping, a story replicated by many of his contemporaries too.
Grace Harris is among the trainers plying a trade with small volumes of horses, and secured a welcome second Jumps winner of the term in the concluding bumper when Inion Tiogaircompleted a 2l victory under Conor Ring. Keep an eye on the next run from Call The Dance from Seven Barrows however, who finished strongly 6 3/4l off the pace.