Williams conquers Taunton

  • Last Updated: January 7 2013, 17:14 GMT

Trainer Venetia Williams and jockey Aidan Coleman heaped the pain on the bookmakers by providing three of the seven winning favourites at Taunton.

  • Ruby Walsh won aboard Sound Investment
  • Cantow on his way to victory under Tony McCoy 
  • Bennys Mist: One of the favourites to oblige at Taunton 

The red-hot combination took Williams' seasonal total past the half-century mark, and their impact only scraped the surface, with the other four events also going the way of a market leader.

There was an element of fortune for Coleman about win number one, where Emperor's Choice (6-4 favourite) inched past Shuil Royale and Guess Again by a respective short head and a head in a phenomenal finish for the Annual Membership Proves Great Value Beginners' Chase.

"When I jumped the second-last I thought I'd win, but I got my reins in a muddle. Fair play to the horse, he got the job done," said Coleman, who was given a two-day ban (January 21-22) for using his whip above the permitted level.

Tom Scudamore must serve the same days for careless riding on Guess Again.

Wide-margin scorers were order of the day in the remainder of the heats, with stamina-sapping Somerset mud exacerbating the distances between finishing positions.

Second for the team was Bennys Mist (5-4 favourite), who clambered over the final fence of the BBC Stargazing Live Here 10th January Handicap Chase but was still far beyond recall.

"That's our 50th winner," Williams said.

"I ended in the 50s last season, but we got there this fast a couple of seasons some time ago.

"We've got a large pool of novice chasers this year, and a lot of them have proved better chasers than hurdlers."

Then it was up to 4-6 market leader Jupiter Rex to follow up last week's course and distance triumph in the Come Racing For A Tenner 29th January Handicap Hurdle.

Ruby Walsh inflicted further damage upon the layers, dropping in to test two young hopefuls from the Paul Nicholls academy and leaving with a double.

Sound Investment (5-6 favourite) was first to make his mark, going a little way towards living up to his name in the Happy New Year Maiden Hurdle.

Graham Wylie's £100,000 purchase had been given something of a hurdling baptism of fire when introduced to obstacles against the high-class Puffin Billy at Newbury, but faced nothing of that calibre here.

One scrape at the final flight was no serious interruption towards a 12-length victory.

"A first-time tongue strap has helped, and this was a different quality of race to the one against Puffin Billy," said Nicholls' assistant, Dan Skelton.

"His jumping was OK, but could be better, and it will be on better ground.

"He hasn't any fancy targets but you'd find a stepping-stone race under a penalty now."

Saphir Du Rheu was arguably even more impressive than his stablemate, despite his winning margin being a length shorter in the Castle Hotel In Taunton "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle.

Punters had latched on to God Of The Kop at the expense of the uneasy 7-4 favourite, but Tony McCoy's mount had no answer when Walsh pressed the button approaching the last.

The winner had been third on his debut in France and again at Newbury six weeks ago.

"He was a bit weak at Newbury but felt much stronger and he picked up really well," said Walsh.

"He's a stayer, and looks a chaser in the making."

Skelton said: "He has improved a lot for his little break, but I don't know what we will do now.

"We will keep him going and I expect he'll have a couple more runs, then go over fences next season."

Cantlow (4-9 favourite) continued on his own path towards one of the Cheltenham Festival handicaps when landing an uncompetitive Hippychick Novices' Chase.

Paul Webber's first horse for JP McManus had not been foot-perfect when winning at Plumpton three weeks earlier and produced a similar sort of round here, escaping with a couple of lapses to still beat Dare Me by 14 lengths.

"AP (Tony McCoy) said he was hating the ground, particularly in the home straight - it's so puddingy and sticky," said Webber.

"We are just trying to get some experience into him. He doesn't have to run again before March, where I'd imagine he'd go for one of the two-and-a-half-mile handicaps, although it's up to the powers that be to decide."

The pattern of favourites winning by double-figure margins was completed by 3-1 shot Extremely So, ridden by James Davies and trained by Chris Down, in the Taunton's Richest Race Meeting - Saturday 19th January Handicap Hurdle.


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