Though he’s unlikely to hit the headlines for his impressive performance, Evan Williams’ Aqua Dude was an eye-catching winner of the Southwell National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle yesterday.
Winner of a point to point in April 2014, the five-year-old son of Flemensfirth had finished down the field in a bumper at Ascot in February; a race won by Hobbs’ exciting youngster Wait For Me. Aqua Dude is quite a unit and has the look of a chaser down the line. However, the style of his win at Southwell suggests he’s more than capable of making a name for himself over hurdles.
The horse is one of several in the yard owned by steadfast supporters Mr and Mrs William Rucker. It’s coming up to nine years since their familiar silks were carried to victory by their star asset in the 2006 Hennessy Gold Cup. State Of Play became a 160 rated chaser, classy enough to add the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase, prior to prominent runs in the Grand National of 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The owners now have Alvarado to cheer when Aintree’s main event comes around. He’s finding similar consistency in the World’s greatest steeplechase with a pair of fourth place finishes in 2014 and 2015. Lacking the class of his illustrious predecessor, he is nevertheless a gutsy individual who would probably win the National if it were run over a trip of five and a half miles.
Quite incredibly connections also owned Cappa Bleu who was retired last year at the age of 13. He too had fallen in love with those Aintree fences, also hitting that fourth place slot back in 2012 before a stunning runners-up finish in the 2013 renewal.
Mr William Rucker is the chief executive of Lazard (London), and is also chairman of Crest Nicholson Holdings as well as Quintain Estates & Development. Lazard are recognized as one of the World’s outstanding Independent Investment Banks, competing with the likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan in the global marketplace. Starting out as an accountant, Rucker had studied Economics and Politics at Bristol University back in the early 1980’s, and has been with Lazard since 1987.
In 2014 the Jockey Club appointed him to the Cheltenham racecourse committee. Welcoming him to his duties the Chairman Robert Waley-Cohen said: “William Rucker has a wealth of experience both as a racehorse owner and as a businessman.”
With a knack of uncovering Grand National contenders, it will be interesting to follow the progress of their talented novice chaser Padge. Connections would have been encouraged by the gelding’s switch to fences, when winning at Ascot a few weeks back. The son of Flemensfirth, out of an Old Vic mare, is destined to make a far better chaser than hurdler. Indeed, back in 2013 he defeated Very Wood in a point to point in Ireland.
However, those that witnessed the win at Ascot would have seen the eccentricity that almost cost him the race. He’s far from straight forward, yet if Williams can get him to behave on the track he could prove special.
Another exciting prospect in the yard, also owned by the Rucker’s is the five-year-old son of Scorpion, De Bene Esse. He looks set to make his hurdling debut in the next few days, possibly at Exeter on Wednesday. An expensive purchase at £75,000, he won a point at Kilpatrick back in March and had previously run-out when very much in touch with Yorkhill in a similar event at Tattersalls Farm. That fella is now under the care of Willie Mullins, and is expected to take high order as a novice hurdler this winter.
Premier league in the world of finance and asset management, William Rucker will be hopeful that his assets on the racecourse prove just as profitable over the upcoming campaign.