Tag Archive for: Our Power

Thomas preparing twin assault on Coral Gold Cup

Sam Thomas bids to become just the third man to have both ridden and trained the winner of the Coral Gold Cup when he saddles Stolen Silver and Our Power in the Newbury feature on Saturday.

The late Andy Turnell and Paul Nicholls are the only others to have achieved such a feat, and Thomas is halfway to completing the accomplishment, having steered the Nicholls-trained Denman to the first of two famous victories in the race his during his Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning season.

Denman shouldered top-weight when delivering his astonishing display in 2007 – and while Stolen Silver has not got as much of a burden to carry, the eight-year-old has only Ahoy Senor above him in the handicap following a victorious comeback at Chepstow.

That was the first time Stolen Silver had competed over three miles and Thomas is hoping there could be more to come over staying distances.

Denman and Sam Thomas on their way to victory in 2007
Denman and Sam Thomas on their way to victory in 2007 (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“The style he won in at Chepstow was really pleasing, he jumped brilliantly, relaxed, and saw the trip out well,” said Thomas.

“I think he hopefully still has more to offer over that distance, which is exciting.

“Obviously, you don’t quite know sometimes until you run these horses over the extreme trips. However, I do feel he is a much more relaxed horse this season at home, and I think that’s a sign of him telling me he wants to step up in trip.

“I have no reason to believe he won’t get three-mile-two, it’s a flat track, they go a good gallop there and you need to stay very well. If he’s ever going to stay that trip, then it will be at a track like Newbury.”

Joining Stolen Silver in the same ownership of Walters Plant Hire and Potter Group is Our Power, who won back-to-back staying handicaps at Ascot and Kempton last season before finishing the campaign well held in the Grand National.

He returned at Newbury for a sighter of the course over hurdles, and Thomas hopes that early outing over the smaller obstacles will put his charge spot-on for a bold bid.

He continued: “Our Power had a good spin over hurdles to give him a good blow out. We would have loved to have run over fences, but we didn’t want to risk him winning again and ruining his chances of having a nice weight in the Coral Gold Cup. Hopefully he is still off a workable mark.

“He’s a very laid-back character and doesn’t give much away at home, but he’s come out of the race nicely and it gave us a bit of time to kick on and give him some more work. Hopefully it has blown away the cobwebs.”

Our Power and Eva’s Oskar all set to be Welsh wonders at Aintree

Our Power and Eva’s Oskar will carry the hopes of Wales when they bid to end a wait of 118 years for victory in the Randox Grand National.

There has been a single Welsh-trained winner of the race in its history, with Kirkland taking the prize under Frank Mason in 1905 after two years of near misses.

The likes of Evan Williams, Peter Bowen, Christian Williams and Rebecca Curtis have flown the flag in recent years, with the Curtis-trained Teaforthree finishing third in 2013. The Welsh contingent this year includes Bowen’s Francky Du Berlais, Sam Thomas’ Our Power and the Tim Vaughan-trained Eva’s Oskar.

Former top jockey Thomas – who won the Gold Cup aboard Denman in 2008 – trains in Lisvane, South Glamorgan, and is heavily supported by Dai Walters and the Potter family – who own the horse under the Walters Plant Hire & Potter Group banner.

Sam Thomas (left) after the victory of Our Power at Ascot
Sam Thomas (left) after the victory of Our Power at Ascot (PA)

The eight-year-old won on his seasonal debut in the London Gold Cup at Ascot and then added another valuable prize in the shape of the Coral Trophy at Kempton.

He will carry just 10st at Aintree and will be guided by an experienced pilot in Sam Twiston-Davies as he seeks to end the long wait for a second Welsh winner.

“Rules are there to be broken, it’s fantastic that we are able to represent Wales on the biggest stage,” Thomas said on a press call hosted by Great British Racing.

“I probably don’t realise the magnitude of it already, but since we’ve known we’ve got a run we’ve had so much interest from local media.

“It really is such a big thing for the country and I’m very proud that we can go there and fly the flag for Wales.

“There are some fantastic Welsh trainers in the area, I’ve grown up watching Evan Williams and Tim Vaughan training lots of good winners and to be in among some of these trainers has been a pinch yourself moment.”

Thomas’ yard is owned by Walters and the trainer is particularly motivated to repay the support he has been given by Walters throughout his training career, not least as both trainer and owner were involved in a helicopter crash in November.

He said: “We’ve loved every minute of being here at Mr Walters’ place and it’s (having a National runner) the icing on the cake for the family that have been so supportive of me, it’s lovely to try to give something back to everyone that’s been right behind through the rough times when the horses haven’t been running very well.

“Hopefully we can do them proud.”

Vaughan, based in Aberthin, will saddle the grey Eva’s Oskar – a horse who has posted two impressive Cheltenham performances this season when finishing second at the November meeting and going one better the following month.

Eva’s Oskar at Exeter
Eva’s Oskar at Exeter (David Davies/PA)

The nine-year-old carries 10st 1lb and will be ridden by a Welsh jockey in Alan Johns, making his involvement in the race a truly all-Welsh affair.

Eva’s Oskar will be cheered on by the whole yard at Aintree, with Vaughan putting on a mini bus to take his staff up to Liverpool to enjoy the big day.

“It’s lovely to have a runner in a race of this magnitude, my main girl in the yard, Lucinda, said it would be lovely if we could all go and I thought ‘what a cracking idea’,” he said.

“We’ve organised a mini bus, we’re going to get in early on Saturday morning, get them mucked out, ride out and set off at about 8am or 8.30am.

“They can have a full day to enjoy the races and the build up with us all and we’ve got some friends who are going to do evening stables for us.

“Why not? They deserve it, they work hard, it’ll be great for everyone.”

Like Thomas, Vaughan was not deterred by the lack of a Welsh winner in over 100 years and instead sees the long-standing record as more than ready for breaking.

“My theory on that is that it’s been that long that it’s about due now! Let’s hope I’m the man to change things, it won’t be for the lack of trying,” he said.

“Statistics are really against us but someone’s got to buck the trend, the likes of Peter, Evan and Rebecca have all had a close crack at it and it would be lovely to think that the trophy could come home to Wales. With the greatest respect to Sam, I hope it’s me!

“We’re all in it to win it and we’ll be trying our best.”

Vaughan’s base does not just house his racing stables as the trainer also operates several business units from outbuildings that were formerly stables.

These include a cafe and a veterinary practice among other ventures, all of whom have rallied to get behind Eva’s Oskar ahead of his journey to Aintree.

“We’ve got this WhatsApp group and I put a video of Eva’s Oskar on the gallops and of course everyone’s gripped now,” Vaughan said.

“I’ve had lots of request for tickets for National day and it’s all good, the community around us is right behind us which makes it an even more enjoyable journey.”

Our Power adds Coral Trophy to big Ascot success

Our Power wore down Flegmatik to win the £150,000 Coral Trophy at Kempton for Sam Thomas and Sam Twiston-Davies.

In a race run at a stiff tempo set by Annsam, Twiston-Davies was happy to bide his time on the eight-year-old winner.

Third in the race 12 months ago, he was racing off a mark 5lb higher having won his only other start this season at Ascot.

He looked to face a stiff task turning into the straight, as Harry Skelton was sat motionless on Flegmatik, chasing his third win at the track.

When asked to go and win his race, however, he could never completely put the race to bed and Our Power (11-2) was always close enough if good enough.

Twiston-Davies got a big leap out of his mount at the last and he landed with momentum, which enabled him to win by a neck.

Sam Twiston-Davies returns on Our Power
Sam Twiston-Davies returns on Our Power (Neil Morrice/PA)

Top-weight Frodon ran another thoroughly creditable race back in third.

It was another feature handicap chase for Thomas who won the Becher Chase with Al Dancer and the Classic Chase at Warwick with Iwilldoit.

The winner is now 10-1 from 16s with Betfair for the Ultima at Cheltenham.

“I’m so pleased for Dai (Walters), James and Jean Potter (owners) who are unswerving supporters of the game,” said Twiston-Davies

“He was fantastic early in the season when he won at Ascot.

“This was only his second run of the season and it’s a fair training performance to win a £100,000 handicap and then this.

Our Power and Sam Thomas after the Coral Trophy
Our Power and Sam Thomas after the Coral Trophy (Nigel French/PA)

“I was only ever three deep at worst and he’s such an economical jumper. I thought halfway down the back he would keep getting there and in the straight he was very good coming between horses. He’s not the biggest, but he has scope and can go in and out.

“He’s the right type for the National and I feel now would be the right time. But he’s on 63 (in list of runners) so would need a few to come out.

“He’s an accurate jumper and can also be quite bold. I think he’s got what it takes for the National and it would be great for Sam who is a good friend and a very good trainer.”

Thomas – who along with Walters was involved in a helicopter crash last year – said: “The horses have been wrong since November time. Credit to the team and the owners for being very patient as it has been a tough few months. It is good to be back on the scoresheet and this is a nice race to win.

“I’ve got no real faith in the runners at the moment just with how the form of the yard is. However, this lad stays forever. I was a bit worried down the back straight but when I saw him turning in, I was quietly confident.

“Although it was a sharp three miles we know he stays well and I was hopeful he would get there in the end, but a lot had to be taken on trust with how the horses have been performing.

“He would have run in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury but he had a little setback and we had no other option but to train him for this, which is a fantastic race itself.”

He added: “I’d say he would be doubtful to get in at Aintree so it will be Cheltenham for the Ultima, then he will either go for the Scottish National or the bet365 Gold Cup.”