Cheltenham date for Maljimar
Nick Williams is hoping to continue his rich vein of form in the Crystal Cup when Maljimar runs at Cheltenham next month.
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He is on course for the final contest of the European cross-country series, the £35,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Steeple Chase on Friday, December 14.
The Devon handler clinched the trainer's title for the series, with his wife Jane taking the Crystal Cup awarded to the leading owner, at Compiegne, France, on November 16, as Sarika and Shalimar Fromento finished first and second for team Williams in the Grand Steeple-Chase Cross-Country de Compiegne.
Maljimar has also run some excellent races in this year's series, winning the Grand Steeple-Chase Cross-Country de Fontainebleau at Fontainebleau, France, in April and staying on to take fourth in the prestigious Velka Pardubicka at Pardubice in the Czech Republic on October 13.
Williams revealed: "The plan is for Maljimar to run in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Steeple Chase. He didn't run at Compiegne last week because we thought that having two runners in the race was enough.
"I thought that his run in the Velka Pardubicka was a massive performance. He was held up last and we didn't think that he would get the trip on the wet ground. It was a very good effort to beat a horse like Uncle Junior.
"He has been a fantastic horse in these type of races. He has won three cross country races in France over the past two years so he is quite a hardened performer now, although the Cheltenham races are the most competitive of the series.
"I think Shalimar Fromento and Sarika have done enough for the season. They are both young horses and we have the coming seasons to look forward to.
"Sarika was blinkered for the first time at Compiegne so, while his victory was a shock, I would hope that there is plenty of improvement to come next year. Maljimar is 12 now but he loves the warmer weather in the summer and he will also be running in the Crystal Cup again next year.
"It was Jane's idea to go down the cross country route and it's 100 per cent down to her that we have had success in the Crystal Cup."