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Williams sets out Sky Bet Chase aim for Cap Du Nord

Cap Du Nord is on target to head for Doncaster’s Sky Bet Chase at the end of this month.

Christian Williams’ improving eight-year-old was a good winner at Newbury on his penultimate outing, before having to settle for second behind the impressive Royal Pagaille at Kempton over Christmas at Kempton.

He finished 19 lengths clear of the third horse, but had no answer to Venetia Williams’ winner – who has since been entered for the Cheltenham Gold Cup following a 14lb rise in the weights.

Cap Du Nord went up 4lb, and Williams is hoping he runs well enough at Doncaster on January 30 to get himself high enough up the weights for a run in the Grand National.

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“Doncaster was the aim before Kempton really – we just didn’t want to wait eight weeks between Newbury and Doncaster,” said Williams.

“He’s quite a sturdy horse so eight weeks would have been too long to wait.

“When I was riding myself I rode Big Fella Thanks in the Kempton race – he unseated me on the second circuit when I felt we’d nearly have won and then we went to Doncaster and won, so I always had that in the back of my mind.

“Our horse is fairly adaptable regards the ground. We thought he wanted better ground after Newbury, but I think he’s fine on most because he’s run well on very bad ground before. I just think he’s more the finished article now.

“He could have bumped into a 160-horse at Kempton. He won very well, but we made a bit of a race of it, and the pair were miles clear.

“We bought Cap Du Nord off a good friend of mine, and he’s always threatened to be a really good horse. Before now, while we’d had some fun, he was still lowly rated. He’s finally shown this year he might be a decent one, which is nice because he’s for a good, supportive owner (Ian Marmion).”

Should Doncaster go to plan, Williams may be adding another string to his Aintree bow along with last season’s Welsh National hero Potters Corner.

“He’s rated 137 now. If he goes and wins this he could be a proper National horse, and that would give Jack (Tudor, jockey) something to think about with Potters Corner as well,” added Williams.

“I think about 144 almost guarantees a run at Aintree, so you think he’d go up 7lb if he wins at Doncaster.”

Potters Corner to miss Chepstow in favour of cross country campaign

Christian Williams has decided to take the Tiger Roll route to Aintree with Potters Corner, and will skip a defence of this month’s Welsh Grand National in favour of the cross country chases at Cheltenham.

Potters Corner was a famous home winner at Chepstow last year, owned and trained by proud Welshmen, so the decision to stay away this time must have been a tough one – but Williams is adamant he is doing the best thing by the 10-year-old.

Potters Corner finished third on his first run over Cheltenham’s cross country course last month, and is set to return next week and then again at the Festival in March.

“I know the horse well and I know how long it took him to recover last year,” said Williams.

“I told the owners last year he only had a certain amount of those National-type races left in him – and with the cross-country races, they are constantly on the turn and it’s not the same endurance.

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“The ground is never too soft either, because they only race on it three times a year, (so) it doesn’t get opened up.

“It’s completely different – after he ran in the cross country last month, he could probably have run somewhere else the next day. But after the Welsh National, we were goosed for months before he was back to himself.

“We think he could win the Welsh National again this year, but I put it to the owners that we could go to Cheltenham with a realistic chance and still have him for Aintree – and they were brilliant about it.

“We think he’s got a good chance at Aintree – it will suit him, and we also think he deserves to go to the Festival with a chance.

“It was his first time over the fences the other day, so we rode him conservatively but we were delighted how he took to it. We’ll probably ride him further forwards next time and further forwards again in March – and he always comes on for a run.”

Williams will also scratch his other Welsh National entry, four-year-old Kitty’s Light – who was placed in the Badger Beers Trophy last time out.

He added: “Kitty’s Light will be scratched as well. He’s only four, so we might look at the Rowland Meyrick with him, and his main aim will either be the Bet365 Gold Cup or even the Scottish National – we’ll work backwards from there.”

The trainer saddled a good winner at Newbury on Saturday in Cap Du Nord, and this time next year Chepstow could be on his agenda.

“Cap Du Nord might just be a staying chaser in time,” he said.

“He’s been a great horse for us. I think he’s the type who copes better in better races. We thought he was better than his rating, and he’s in a better place this year.

“He could be a Scottish National type. I don’t want to say he doesn’t go on soft yet, but he broke the track record at Newbury.

“He’ll probably go to Kempton on December 27 for a 0-140 – and then I’d have thought the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster, which I won as a jockey on Big Fella Thanks, would be the race for him.”