Venetia Williams set for best ever season after flying start to the autumn
It is already an exciting season for Hertfordshire-based trainer Venetia Williams as her strong stable has already been flexing its muscles in this 2023/24 campaign. The former Grand National winner will be targeting some of the biggest races in the sport, including the King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Williams, a regular at Ludlow Racecourse, already picked up over £220,000 in prize money this season, despite not having many runners over the summer. With many of her biggest stars set to make their seasonal reappearance over the next few weeks, she will be hoping to build upon that tally fast after a November that has already delivered 13 winners in little more than 20 days.
L’Homme Pressé has potential to reach the top
Two seasons ago, L’Homme Pressé was one of the leading novice chasers in the UK and Ireland. He won his opening five races over fences, including two victories at Grade One level, with wins coming in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown and the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Unfortunately for Williams, L’Homme Pressé ran just twice last season. He made a winning return to action in the Grade Three Rehearsal Handicap Chase at Newcastle but then unseated his rider at the final fence in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day,
With an official rating of 170 over fences, L’Homme Pressé remains one of the highest-rated horses in the sport. Williams will be hoping he can shine once again on the track when he makes a return to action after almost 12 months off the track.
L’Homme Pressé is expected to run at Haydock in the Grade One Lancashire Chase (aka the Betfair Chase) this coming weekend. He will most likely thereafter head back to Kempton where he will get a second shot at the King George VI Chase.
The eight-year-old has been tipped to be a Cheltenham Gold Cup contender ever since he won the 2021 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Prestbury Park. As of the November 14th, he is 12/1 in the Cheltenham Festival betting to win the 2024 Cheltenham Gold Cup and give his trainer a first success in the Blue Riband event in the sport.
Vicctorino is another to credit
Former French raider Victtorino arrived at Williams’ Aramstone Stables earlier this year and he has made a strong start. He was victorious on his seasonal reappearance at Ascot in the Grade III Sodexo Handicap Chase. That was his first start over 3m and appeared to take a big step forward. He is a horse to look out for in the 2023 fixtures this season and has not stopped improving.
Before joining Williams, Victtorino was successful twice over fences in France. He broke his maiden as a four-year-old on heavy ground in a handicap at Compiegne over 2m1f off a low weight. Just three starts later, he doubled his tally, with a victory over 2m6f at Auteuil, carrying 8lb more in most authoritative style.
The handicapper has handed Williams’ exciting chaser an official mark of 142. That is 4lb higher than he was faced with at Ascot. Williams is likely to have one of the staying chases at the Cheltenham Festival in mind for the five-year-old, including the Ultima Handicap Chase on day one of the meeting in March.
Royal Pagaille remains a leading stayer
One of the most consistent horses in Williams’ yard over the last few years has been Royal Pagaille. He is a four-time winner over fences, with two victories coming in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock.
Royal Pagaille has featured in the last three renewals of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He was sixth on his debut in 2021, he went one place better 12 months later, while back in March, he had to settle for sixth place in the race won by Galopin Des Champs.
The consistent staying chaser is set to feature in many of the leading races again in the 3m division in his latest campaign. He has an entry in the Lancashire Chase at Haydock this weekend, but there are also other choices. Before heading back to Cheltenham, is likely to feature in the early 2024 fixtures.
Still only nine, Williams’ gelding has a lot of experience in his division. He rarely produces a bad performance and his best results often come early in the season when fresh, so his trainer will be anticipating that to be the case again this year.
Williams will be hoping when she reflects on how the season has gone in April, she can look back on a campaign that catapulted her into the top 10 stables in Britain.