He may have failed to lift the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup with his ultra-consistent chaser Buywise, nevertheless, this winter is becoming one to remember for Glamorgan trainer Evan Williams.
He has his horses in outstanding shape and rattled off a treble yesterday at Ffos Las. Losing stable pilot Paul Moloney to injury was a blow, but in Adam Wedge he has a talented replacement. The young jockey was aboard two of the winners, and showed strength to match his undoubted style in getting Pobbles Bay ahead where it mattered to win the Fuchs Handicap Hurdle.
Williams has to be thrilled with his season to date. He stands seventh in the Trainers Championship with prize money fast approaching half a million. The aforementioned Buywise, along with classy hurdler Court Minstrel are the stars of the yard, and continue to run consistently well.
The trainer took out his licence back in 2003 after a successful period as jockey and trainer of point to pointers. He won the National Point-to-Point Championship back in 2002. His first major success under rules came quickly with Sunray taking the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow in 2003.
State Of Play and Deep Purple helped to put Williams on the map. The former won the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Charlie Hall Chase before a string of outstanding performances in numerous Grand Nationals. Deep Purple also won the Charlie Hall along with the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase in 2009.
Court Minstrel’s finest hour came at Ayr in 2013 when he took the Grade 2 Scottish Champion Hurdle. Just short of top class over hurdles, he was sent over fences last winter but again fell just short at the top level. Back over timber, his success in the totepool Silver Trophy Hurdle in October was a terrific performance. Lumping top-weight, he was delivered to perfection by Paul Moloney to swoop after the last flight. He ran another cracker when second to Rock On Ruby in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot last time. He stayed on well that day, and on a sound surface has a lethal finishing kick.
The Welsh trainer will be hoping that others can step forward during this purple patch. Nansaroy looks a fair novice hurdler and is currently two from three under rules. The five-year-old son of Indian River has won twice in testing ground, and stayed on strongly to win on his hurdling debut at Chepstow last time. He shaped as if a step up in trip would bring out further improvement, and is set to run at Newbury on Wednesday.
Maxanisi is another that could head to Newbury. Under the same ownership as Court Minstrel, this fella is two from two under rules and also won his hurdling debut at Chepstow. By Kalanisi, he’s another that ought to stay a trip in time, and is a powerful, sizeable unit. He was very novicey at Chepstow, yet still had the raw ability to win. He could prove very useful given time to mature.
There’s real talent in the yard at present, and plenty of it. It’s an exciting time for Evan Williams and his team and I’d be surprised if this didn’t prove to be his most successful season since those glory days of State Of Play and Deep Purple.