There has been only one man to follow in the big staying handicap chases this season and Christian Williams is set to launch a three-pronged assault on the last major prize of the current campaign when he saddles Scottish Grand National one-two Win My Wings and Kitty’s Light, as well as Coral Trophy winner Cap Du Nord, in Sandown’s bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase on Saturday.
The Ogmore-By-Sea handler has saddled 34 winners this season and it should come as no shock that 26 of those and over £550,000 of his total prize-money haul for the term, has come in races staged over further than two miles and seven furlongs.
His Kitty’s Light, who is the 5-1 second favourite with the sponsor, was a luckless runner-up in a chaotic ending to the three-mile-five-furlong Sandown contest 12 months ago and has proven to be the most consistent of bridesmaids once again this season, finishing second on four occasions.
His latest silver medals have come behind his stablemates that are also engaged here and Williams believes it would be a fitting end to the season if the six-year-old can finally land a huge pot.
He said: “I think everybody would think that he’d very much deserve a success, not just us at Christian Williams racing.
“There would be plenty of cheers at Sandown if he was to win, he’s just so consistent. He’s a mile horse really being by Nathaniel, it’s not his fault he was bought by a staying chase trainer!
“I just feel a bit sorry for Kitty because a Christian Williams horse has stopped him in his two starts this year – Cap Du Nord at Kempton and Win My Wings at Ayr – but I think he’s won over £80,000 in those alone, so he’s won good money for his owners (Richard Bedford & All Star Sports Racing).”
However, Williams was keen to advise that Saturday is not a revenge mission for Kitty’s Light to right the wrong of 2021 and that the Scottish Grand National was perhaps his number one aim for the spring.
““We aimed Kitty’s Light for the Scottish National, so we don’t worry about things like last year too much. If we had a chip on our shoulder and had a big issue about it, we would have laid him out for this race,” Williams said at a media event organised by The Jockey Club.
There is a case to be made for all three of Williams’ runners to be right in the mix at the finish of this season-ending contest and it would be a fitting way for the Welshman to end a campaign in which he has dominated the stamina-sapping events.
However, the 39-year-old stressed that none of his trio have been laid out for this race and they could prove vulnerable to one that has been plotted for the £90,000 first prize.
He said: ““It would be a great end to the season, but it won’t spoil it if we don’t win.
“The only worry is that there might have been the odd horse or two who might have been pencilled in for this – I don’t know whether Paul Nicholls has shown his hand with Enrilo, but we’ll find out on Saturday. I’m sure he’ll be going there thinking he can beat us and we’ll be driving to Sandown thinking the same.”
Williams is hoping the success he has had this season could result in an increased string size in the future and is always looking for ways in which he can improve the quality of the occupants of Ogmore Farm.
He explained: “The phones have been ringing since Ayr and we can’t do more than what we’re doing, so it’s been great. We set out every year to try to win the ITV races and pick out which horses can win them.
“We try to win pots where the good prize money is and then you just hope that the owners re-invest it. Win My Wings’ owners have won some nice prize money and they’re going to buy another horse next year, so we’re always thinking.
“I think we’re having a nicer type of horse every year and we’ll go into next year with nicer horses. When you walk around the yard, you see them every morning and you can see month to month that the quality is going up. We’re spending £40,000 on horses now whereas last year we were spending £15,000 and hopefully we can start spending 60,000 and 70,000 down the line.
“We’re always on the lookout for horses every day and for a new place as well. We’ll find something. I have plenty of confidence in what I do and I have good staff, so moving is not something I’m worried about.
“Plenty of people march around and say they want to be champion trainer, but I think you need to be realistic. We enjoy winning the big races and we’d like better horses, and probably to find better horses you need to have more coming through your yard.”