Young guns ready to fire as Williams looks to build on solid previous campaign
The trainer lifts the lid on his string for the season ahead
There is no doubt the Evan Williams yard is going through a transitional period.
With stable stalwart De Faoithesdream retired and fellow poster boys Court Minstrel and Buywise likely to follow suit in the near future, this season represents a changing of the guard for a trainer blessed with a handful of promising youngsters.
The 2017-18 campaign would certainly hacve been considered a success with prize-money a near career-best £783,136, up by around £185,000 from the previous season – an achievement that bears greater significance considering two particular blows the yard suffered in December last year.
In the space of just over a fortnight, smart novice chaser Gayebury and talented novice hurdler Evening Hush both fell foul of career-ending injuries on the track. Williams says: “These things happen in racing. You just have to take your medicine and move on.”
Two of the stable’s four-year-olds who stood out in bumpers in the spring were debut winner Mick Manhattan and the mare Crackle Lyn Rosie, who showed great potential when running second to potentially smart Nicky Henderson-trained rival Lust For Glory.
“We have a lovely bunch of young horses,” says Williams, “although it’s difficult at this stage to gauge just how good they all are. Several will be coming out over the next few weeks and could be anything.”
It is customary for Williams to have a staying chaser in mind for major handicap riches later in the season, but by his own admission a candidate has yet to come forward. He says: “I’d love to have a horse for one of the Nationals but I probably don’t right now. We’re focusing on youth and I’m excited for the season ahead.”
Evan Williams's list of Runners
Racing Post Rating: 100 (hurdles); Official rating: -
Info: Five-year-old mare Black Sam Bellamy (sire) - Queenoz (dam) Owner: Mrs C Williams
Form: Form figures: 1-5
She’s a grand little mare who won her sole point-to-point but I still don't know a massive amount about her. We’re learning all the time with her and will continue down the novice hurdle route.
RPR 143c OR 139c
Info: 8g Flemensfirth - Miss Cozzene Mr & Mrs William Rucker
He’s a promising horse but won’t run this season. It was unfortunate because he cut into a tendon last year and will need a fair bit more time to recover from that.
Info: 4g Arcadio - Tobetall RER Williams
He’s a young horse but I couldn’t tell you if he’s good, bad or ugly right now. He’s entered up in novice hurdles in the coming weeks.
RPR 124c OR 119c
Info: 7g Central Park - Nan Mr & Mrs William Rucker
He would have gained a lot of useful experience last season and didn’t do a whole lot wrong, but just wasn’t the quickest learner in the world. He ran okay in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter but I’m not sure he stayed the trip after travelling nicely there. He’s stronger now and could be a good staying horse somewhere down the line.
Info: 4g Jeremy - Kings Orchid Mr & Mrs William Rucker
He won his point-to-point and ran a really good race when second in his bumper at Wincanton. He must have a good constitution because he was so fresh when he came over. We didn’t expect a massive amount going into the race and he surprised us. We’ll go novice hurdling with him.
Burn Baby Byrne
RPR 98b OR -
Info: 5m Malinas - Top Of The Dee RER Williams
This former pointer has a good attitude and ran nicely in a bumper at Ludlow recently, staying very well. We’ll tick away in mares’ hurdles.
Info: 11g Tikkanen - Greenogue Princess T Hywel Jones
He did us proud again last season, winning the veterans final at Sandown, and things clearly didn’t go to plan in the Grand National. He’ll start off over hurdles in the next few weeks and we’ll see if the old boy retains his ability. He’s been a joy to train over the years.
Info: 3g Excelebration - Terre Du Vent Richard Abbott & Mario Stavrou
He was quite handy on the Flat and ran okay on his first start for us at Ludlow but it was a strange race. The favourite was in behind and an outsider won, getting a good positive ride that probably caught us out a bit. He’ll certainly improve for the run and should win a nice little hurdle this season.
RPR 118h OR -
Info: 6g Fragrant Mix - Prouesse Collonges Mr & Mrs William Rucker
He’s a big, strong horse who managed to win over hurdles last year but jumping a fence should be the making of him. He’s bred to get a trip, so winning over two miles last season definitely bodes well. He’ll go straight into novice chasing over further than two miles.
RPR 132h OR 130h
Info: 5g Flemensfirth - Definite Love Mr & Mrs William Rucker
He’s a nice, strong horse and did well to win two novice hurdles last year. He’s a big boy and won’t be out too early because he wants plenty of cut in the ground. It’s been a dry autumn and when the ground gets soft he’ll go novice chasing.
Info: 8g Hernando - Lauderdale David M Williams
He finished the season off well and his best run was probably his last run at Aintree. He’s been a very prolific horse over the years. I’d say we’ll campaign him in three-mile hurdles. He wouldn’t be one for chasing as he’s not even a good jumper of a hurdle. He’s been placed in a top-level hurdle, so I can’t see any sense in running over fences now. There’s no doubt he could be placed in Graded hurdles this season.
RPR 121c OR 120c
Info: 7m Craigsteel - Rose N Alice Billy Bates
She’s a genuine girl but has probably suffered by consistently running well in novice chases and the handicapper has her a bit too high for her to win. She’ll rectify that in time but she needs to fall down the weights.
RPR 155h OR 131h
Info: 11g Court Cave - Theatral Mrs Janet Davies
We thought it would probably be his last run at Chepstow recently. Age is catching up with him but he did run a solid race there and came out of it well. We’ll persevere with another run or two and see how he goes but he’s not far away from enjoying a long, honourable retirement. He’s been a smashing horse but clearly doesn’t have the same zip he once had. It’d be great to go out on a win and we probably won’t ask him to race through the winter.
RPR 104h OR 110h
Info: 5g Court Cave - Windsor Dancer Mrs Janet Davies
It’s just taken a bit of time for the penny to drop with him. He ran well in a Ludlow bumper and the form has worked out well with Kim Bailey’s Vinndication looking very smart. He hasn’t run as well since, however. We’ll tick away on tracks like Bangor where the ground shouldn’t get too bad as he wouldn’t want it too soft.
Crackle Lyn Rosie
RPR 93 OR -
Info: 4f Kayf Tara - Native Sunrise RER Williams
She did nothing wrong in her bumper – the winner looked smart and she must have run well to finish second. She travelled really nicely into the race at Fontwell [on Wednesday]. We’ll see how she comes out of it before making a plan.
De Dollar Man
RPR 141c OR 135c
Info: 7g Vinnie Roe - Dollar Bay Mr & Mrs William Rucker
His novice chasing form was pretty strong and he did nothing wrong last year, although he was racing on exceptionally deep ground all year. With a bit of better ground he should show us a bit more than last year. He’s a very tough and genuine horse and I think there could be a fair bit more to come from him over fences somewhere down the line.
Info: 4g No Risk At All - Tuffslolyloly Mr & Mrs William Rucker
We can see from his home work that he has a good attitude and he’ll start off in bumpers. He’ll be a lovely horse over hurdles in time and will make a chaser further down the line.
RPR 144c OR 112c
Info: 11g Winged Love - Kiora Lady RER Williams
He’s not the force of old but we’ll run him on soft ground in the winter and see if he can be competitive. If he shows any signs of not enjoying the game anymore we won’t hesitate to retire him.
Info: 8g Hurricane Run - Monumental Gesture Mr & Mrs William Rucker
He’s really lightly raced for his age and I still don’t feel he’s had a real chance in life because he’s always had little niggly issues. I think he’s got plenty of ability if we can get a clear run at things. I hope to go chasing with him this year as he’s schooled quite well over fences at home. There’s definitely talent there, he just needs a bit of luck to be seen to best effect.
RPR 121h OR 118h
Info: 5m Beat Hollow - Oh Susannah Ms S Howell
She’s been a grand mare for us this summer. She’s tough and genuine but needs a sound surface to thrive. She’ll be back out in the new year when the ground quickens.
Info: 5g Beat Hollow - Payphone David M Williams
He’s a nice horse and ran consistently in bumpers last year. He ran pretty well in his maiden hurdle on his return and he’s probably one to have fun with round the lesser tracks.
RPR 120h OR 122h
Info: 6g Presenting - Fairy Lane WJ Evans Racing
He’s a big, cumbersome type who did well to win a hurdle race. I’d imagine we’ll go chasing at some stage but he's still a novice over hurdles, so we could make use of that. He definitely wouldn’t want the ground to be too quick and it might be a little while before he comes out.
RPR 156h OR 150h
Info: 7g Montjeu - Dance Parade Walters Plant Hire Ltd
He’s a really good horse on his day and ran a couple of smashing races for us last year. We experimented with chasing on better ground but in hindsight he’s no chaser and it dented his belief. I’d say he might take a little bit of getting back because having a crack over fences really didn’t help him. We’ll tick along and rebuild his confidence because there’s so much talent in there.
Info: 4g Dark Angel - Kadayna Pos Partnership 2
He looks a nice recruit as his bumper form in Ireland is working out well, but I doubt we’ll see the best of him until he matures more.
RPR 100h OR 110h
Info: 6m Black Sam Bellamy - Fenney Spring Mrs C Williams
Her mark over hurdles perhaps looks a bit too high for what she’s achieved so far. A fence will help her and we’ll go straight down that route this season.
RPR 148c OR 139c
Info: 9g King’s Theatre - Ma Furie Mr & Mrs William Rucker
He was great last season and clearly loves Cheltenham. He was third in three really competitive handicaps there but probably runs too consistently for his own good. He deserves to win a big prize.
Info: 4g Flemensfirth - Nifty Nuala Mr & Mrs William Rucker
He pulled too much in his bumper and will need to settle better. He comes from a good family and will go novice hurdling.
RPR 118h OR 118h
Info: 6g Millenary - Royal Marble Emrys Jones & Partner
He’s been a revelation for us this year. He hates soft but loves good ground and has racked up a really good sequence. He's surprised us a bit. The handicapper should have his measure now, though.
RPR 115c, 113h OR 108c, 108h
Info: 8g Tikkanen - Clydeside WJ Evans Racing
He had a wonderful time again last season but is far from straightforward. I do think he could win again off his mark because the handicapper has never been too harsh with him. He’s the type that just does enough in his races and isn’t overly hard on himself, which is a good trait to have.
RPR 110b OR -
Info: 4g Blue Bresil - Normanville Walters Plant Hire Ltd
He did well to win his bumper on his debut, handling soft ground very well that day. He’s a good, tough horse and we’ll try to win a novice hurdle with him on soft ground this winter.
Info: 7g Valanour - Moriane T Hywel Jones
He ran okay over fences but he’s very difficult to get right. He probably wants cut in the ground to be seen at his best and we’ll persevere over fences with him.
North West Wind
RPR 107h, 102c OR 106h, 103c
Info: 5g Shirocco - Crystal Ballerina RER Williams
I genuinely don’t know what trip he needs. He looks slow over two miles, he looks slow over two and a half miles and over three miles he doesn’t seem to stay. He’s a tricky one. I’m sure he’ll win races but over what trip I’ve no idea.
Info: 10g Croco Rouge - Galant Tour T Hywel Jones
He’s been another good servant for us but there’s no doubt he’s badly handicapped. He performed well on his comeback at Chepstow and could be competitive in the winter but he’s another to need a bit more weight off his back.
RPR 142h, 144c OR 117h, 127c
Info: 11g Oscar - Derravarra Sunset Geoff & Anne Price
He’s a grand old boy. He’s had a couple of problems off the track but he seems to retain plenty of enthusiasm for the game despite his age. He seems the type to come back and be competitive somewhere down the line when we can get him match-fit.
RPR 124h OR 120h
Info: 6g Westerner - Rose De Beaufai David M Williams
He had a good start, terrible middle and bad end to last season. I think he could improve for a fence. I feel he was very unlucky last year, so we’ll find our way over the larger obstacles.
RPR 134h, 149c OR 124h, 143c
Info: 9g Flemensfirth - Mona Vic Mr & Mrs William Rucker
He’s a funny old fella. We’ve had loads of little problems with him as well. There’s no doubt he has ability but he’s a very difficult horse to get right. We’re going to have another go and I really do like him because I know there’s a big engine in there.
RPR 102h OR -
Info: 5g Fuisse - Peony Girl Norwester Racing Club & Partner
He won his point and did nothing wrong in two nice runs over hurdles but it’s difficult to get a handle on just how good he is. I see him as a long-term prospect and wouldn’t even worry about this season. I think he can win a hurdle race and, although he’s not a big, robust horse, another summer on grass will be the making of him.
RPR 147c OR 131c
Info: 8g Oscar - Rose De Beaufai David M Williams
He travelled really well in the Welsh National last year but didn’t quite get home. Perhaps I went to the Welsh National a year too soon as it probably emptied him. It would be nice to go back to a race like that somewhere down the line but we need to get his confidence back to where it was. We’ll start off somewhere small when he’s a bit more enthusiastic. He’s definitely talented.
RPR 143c OR 137c
Info: 7g Multiplex - Wou Oodd Mrs Janet Davies
He’s a really tough horse. He suffered with a couple of problems and as a result can be a little hit or miss in the jumping department but can be dangerous when he gets conditions in his favour.
RPR 143h, 129c, OR 137h, 137c
Info: 7g Primary - Next Venture Mrs Janet Davies
I felt the handicapper gave him a hard time for winning a moderate race at Ffos Las and he paid the price in better company at the spring festivals, although he acquitted himself well. We’re going chasing with him this season and, although he’s not a big horse, he’s related to a few chasers.
RPR 111h OR 110h
Info: 7g Prince Arch - Radical Gunner Mrs Janet Davies
He did well to win a bad race on very bad ground at Uttoxeter. He’s had a lot of trouble with his feet over the years and I’d imagine he needs soft ground to be at his best. We’ll try him over a fence this season and see how he gets on.
RPR 141h OR 145h
Info: 5g Dark Angel - Happy Talk L Fell
He’s a really gutsy horse with a likeable attitude. He puts his head down and battles when he has to and has already won two really nice handicaps for us. I was really impressed with his Welsh Champion Hurdle victory on his first start of the season and he seems the type who could progress again.
Info: 6m Doyen - Skew Mrs Janet Davies
She’s a pleasant enough mare and ran well behind a nice mare of Henry Daly’s when last seen. We’ll go chasing with her because the programme book nowadays means there are so many opportunities for mares over fences.
RPR 135c OR 114c
Info: 10m Blueprint - Im A Believer RER Williams
She’s a funny little thing. She has no pedigree and no looks but seems to pop up when you need a winner. We were going to stop with her but she came out of the woodwork to help us out at Chepstow. She’s nothing really going for her apart from the fact she’s a very game little girl.
The Last Day
RPR 130h OR 128h
Info: 6g Oscar - The Last Bank Mr & Mrs William Rucker
He had a lovely season last time and ran a couple of very nice races to remain unbeaten at Chepstow. Chepstow is a real specialist’s track. It takes a certain type of horse to act around there and he proved he loves the place. Really he’s not a hurdler, so we’ll go chasing with him this year. I think he can take big steps forward over fences and I’m really quite sweet on him for the season ahead.
Tornado In Milan
RPR 142h, 140c OR 136h, 136c
Info: 12g Milan - Julika Mrs C Williams
He’s a tough old boy and has been great to have around over the years but he can’t keep winning at his age. He’s done his job and we’ll crack on again until he's had enough.
RPR 125h OR 126h
Info: 5g Presenting - Blueanna Mr & Mrs William Rucker
You can put a line through his last run on really soft ground at Warwick and he didn’t do anything but try his hardest for us after winning his point. He’s a nice horse and will want a fence in time but we’d dearly love to win a hurdle race. He’s a good-ground horse rather than a soft-ground one. He was probably inexperienced enough last year and has strengthened up.
RPR 124h OR 123h
Info: 6g Nickname - Sweet Jaune Mrs C Williams
He kept progressing in moderate races this summer but we’re not sure where to go now. He’s not very big, so I’m not sure if he’ll jump a fence, but it’s difficult to know what I can expect him to do. He’s undoubtedly had a brilliant season, though. He’s very genuine and handles cut in the ground but probably doesn’t have much in hand with the handicapper.
RPR 128h OR 124h
Info: 5g Getaway - Voodoo Magic RER Williams
He’s had a good summer. I thought he was useless, to be honest. The guys in the yard kept telling me he wasn’t and they were proved right. He’s been having a lovely time of it on good ground, so we might put him away soon.