Please Note: Next Race meeting is Thursday 21st March 2024

Venetia Williams treble lights up a damp autumn

Our third fixture of the season showcased the talents of one of our favourite visitors in Venetia Williams, who scored a cross-card treble, including a pair of winners at Ludlow.

The Williams stable has been into its stride quickly this autumn, capitalizing on ground conditions well suited to Venetia’s choice of horse. Not for her summer ground; her style of horse relishes some cut underfoot, so the good to soft conditions presently are nigh on perfect.

A big Saturday winner a few days ago in the Sodexo Live! Gold Cup Handicap Chase, a £100,000 contest at Ascot, has only served to flag up the well-being of her string, currently running at a remarkable 38% strike rate.

For all that, a double at Ludlow allowed punters a 16/1 combination, begun when Lucy Turner made all in the Michael Oliver Memorial Handicap Hurdle for amateur riders to open the card on 6 year old French-bred Ramo. In the ground conditions, it wasn’t the fastest run race, but pillar to post victories are never easy to achieve, giving his  young rider her 16th career win.

Stable rider Charlie Deutsch was aboard the second leg of the double in the 3m handicap chase, when he steered Robyndzone to a 6 1/2l victory. The race was not without excitement for owners East India Racing. The nine year did not put in a faultless round of jumping, but is competent enough in this class to add again to his four chase tally.

Shane Quinlan was in the plate on the stable’s other winner in a £20,000 handicap chase at Newbury, where he scraped home by a neck on Galop de Chasse, so all in all, a good day’s work.

Famoso followed up a neck victory in a novices chase at Stratford in August in the NFU Mutual sponsored novices handicap chase over the minimum trip for Matt and Stan Sheppard. Always doing enough, he made his way from the rear to join the lead at the last and prevent Charlie Deutsch by 1/2l from giving the Williams stable a third winner of the day .

Choccabloc continued his seamless progression through the ranks to win the valuable Templar Medical Introductory Hurdle for James Bowen and Nicky Henderson. The five year old, bred by James and Jean Potter, and co-owned by them and Richard Kelvin-Hughes, started his assault on the top flight in a modest bumper at Market Rasen in May, and was beaten a head in a novices event here in late October. Four might have won from the 6 that faced the starter as they ranged into the third last, but the winner and runner-up, The Doyen Chief, under Tom Bellamy for Alan King, asserted, and Bellamy was unlucky not to have wrested the lead on the line. A short head victory gave favourite backers a sigh of relief as the jolly justified his 4/7 odds.

Bellamy had earlier paid his way for the day in the 2m 4f novices handicap chase when another in-form trainer continued her run of autumn success. Tightenourbelts made a successful progression to fences at the first time of asking having won his maiden hurdle back here in March. That’s a fourth winner from 17 runners to date this month for the Marlborough yard of Emma Lavelle, and confirms a sense that north Wiltshire is going to enjoy a good season.

Half a day’s ride across the Wiltshire downs from Lavelle’s Ogbourne Maizey yard are the Blewbury Downs across the county border, now resounding to the thunder of hooves from Noel Williams’ small string. Small stables sometimes host some little gems though, and in Irish-bred juvenile, Saissisante, Williams has something to progress through the juvenile ranks with a view to the Festival. His 7 1/2l victory under James Davies was easily accomplished, and he may be set to take on stiffer opposition henceforth.

The two remaining races of the day introduced novices to the dark arts of racing. The six year old Lilting Verse, a daughter of Ascot star Yeats, made a winning debut over obstacles in the mares maiden hurdle, following a bumper campaign last winter that resulted in one win from four runs at Huntingdon in December. She kept up the formidable strike rate of Gloucestershire trainer Fergal O’Brien, leading the Trainers’ Championship with 56 winners to date and over £500,000 in prize money. Connor Brace was in the plate.

The concluding bumper saw Nigel Twiston-Davies introduce Lightning Flash, who made most of the running to win by 3 1/2l under Sam T-D, and continue the stable’s fine run of form this autumn which has seen 19 winners since the beginning of October.

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