Williams confident L’Homme Presse has bright future

Venetia Williams appears to have a yet another top young chaser on her hands after L’Homme Presse came home 13 lengths clear of Legends Ryde in the Howden Graduation Chase at Ascot under Charlie Deutsch.

The Herefordshire trainer has her string in fine form at present and supporters of the 6-5 favourite barely had a moment’s worry, particularly when main market rival Pencilfulloflead was an early faller.

‘Busy Man’ is the translation of the ex-French gelding’s name, yet Deutsch was far from busy under a horse he called “very straightforward”.

Williams was delighted that he had followed up his wide-margin chasing debut success at Exeter 15 days previously.

She said: “He is only a novice and there is no shadow of a doubt that the second-favourite didn’t complete – hopefully he is all right – which obviously made his task easier. But it is still a very nice performance for a novice.

“I have no idea where he goes. If you ask me what plans were, this wasn’t it.

“He always looked like a chaser not a hurdler. He is starting to look a very good chaser. He is a fluent mover and he is an intelligent horse.”

She added: “Andy Edwards (co-owner) bought him in France after he’d had a couple of runs and had a tendon injury. Andy gave him the time off and he came to me last season.

“He jumped left today, but he only did that when he got in tight to give himself a bit more room. They always do that here.”

Sporting the famous emerald green and gold hooped silks of JP McManus, Palmers Hill (7-2 co-favourite) followed up his recent successful seasonal bow at Wetherby with a nine-and-a-half-length victory over Diego Du Charmil in the Howden Handicap Chase.

Defying a 4lb penalty, the well-handicapped eight-year-old made a few jumping errors but overcame them and stayed on stoutly from the last to power clear of his eight rivals under Jonjo O’Neill Jr.

After a promising start to his career, things have not always gone according to plan, but trainer Jonjo O’Neill hopes he has turned a corner.

“He takes a chance or two, but he gets through it,” he said.

“He has his own system, really. But that’ll do if he keeps winning. He is in great old form at the moment, but he has his patches and he kind of disappears on you.

“I wish I knew why. His (digestive) system is not great. The vets have done all sorts of explorations with him – and they cost more than the horse did! He needs a bit of time between his races. But he’s won and that was nice.

“We liked him a lot very early on, but then he fell apart.”

Christmas is all about the anticipation. Yet for owners like Danny Charlesworth, the big celebration comes over five days in March.

The Cheltenham Festival is very much in the minds of connections of the Gordon Elliott-trained Ardhill (4-1 favourite), who landed a gamble in the opening Foundations Developments Novices’ Handicap Hurdle under a cosy ride from Adam Wedge.

Blinkers worked the oracle for the six-year-old, who came into the extended two-mile-seven-furlong contest with an 0-11 record. Yet he fairly scooted away from his 15 rivals, to score by seven and a half lengths.

Charlesworth, who has owned the likes of Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle winner Crack Away Jack, is eyeing the Festival meeting now.

He said: “We had a little bit on him each-way and we thought he would be in the frame, but we put blinkers on him for the first time.

“He wasn’t quite right last year and we knew he wasn’t right. We knew there was a few niggles. Gordon seemed to think he’d got him right and said he was really well at home and that he wanted to take him to Ascot.

“Hopefully he will go on for here and let’s hope he is a Cheltenham horse.

“We will have to go up the weights, but Adam said he should progress from this and if he does, then we will certainly look to do that.

“There are few races we can look at, depending on the going. Something like the Coral Cup or the Martin Pipe or something like that over two-mile-five (furlongs) or whatever.

“Adam said he travelled well the whole way round, but as soon as they slowed, he had to take a pull on him. I’m delighted with that.”

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