Jockey Jack Tudor aiming for victory on Christian Williams’ Cap Du Nord at Doncaster

THERE are many trainers who curse the shrilling sound of the telephone. Christian Williams, however, is not one of them.

Cap Du Nord and Jack Tudor in winning action at Newbury for trainer Christian Williams - they head the field for the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.

A busy phone, he says, invariably means he has horses running in big races – like Cap Du Nord who is favourite for today’s Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.

“The phone hasn’t stopped ringing all week. It’s brilliant. Love it. Brilliant,” the breathless Williams tells The Yorkshire Post by way of introduction.

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And with good reason.

Cap Du Nord and Jack Tudor in winning action at Newbury for trainer Christian Williams - they head the field for the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.

As a jockey, Williams won three races on the legendary Denman at the outset of the champion’s career, finished second in the 2005 Grand National on Royal Auclair behind Hedgehunter and rode Big Fella Thanks to victory in the 2009 Sky Bet Chase.

Injury – and the Welshman suffered from cruel luck at the best of times – meant he never truly fulfilled his potential as a jump jockey who enjoyed riding spells with the likes of Paul Nicholls as well as Yorkshire’s racing legends Sue and Harvey Smith.

But, in recent years, he’s come into his own as a trainer at his family’s sheep farm at Ogmore-By-Sea in the Vale of Glamorgan where a sandy beach, and two rivers, provided gallops like no other for his burgeoning string of horses.

And the results speak for themselves – Potters Corner, co-owned by, amongst others, Welsh rugby international Jonathan Davies, landing the 2019 Midlands National, and then the Welsh Grand National, at Chepstow to the evocative strains of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Old Land of My Fathers).

Winning trainer Christian Williams celebrates his victory with Potters Corner in the Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase at Chepstow in December 2019.

The first Welsh-trained winner of Chepstow’s signature race since 1965, Potters Corner’s target is April’s Randox Grand National at Aintree where he could be joined by the exciting Cap Du Nord.

Victorious at Newbury in late November, he was then an eyecatching second at Kempton to the Royale Pagaille who galloped into Gold Cup contention when landing Haydock’s Peter Marsh Chase last weekend.

And it is that form which sees Cap Du Nord head the market for a three-mile race traditionally known as the Great Yorkshire Chase.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Williams.

Jack Tudor and Potters Corner clear the last in the 2019 Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.

“I picked it out a good few months ago. I think he’s better on a bit nicer ground, but I’m not going to use that as an excuse.

“He’ got a good profile, the Kempton form has worked out with Royale Pagaille and the third (Double Shuffle) winning and he can only keep improving. He’s in good form.”

They’re words that also apply to Williams as he discusses the racing landscape while his young family keep themselves amused.

He doesn’t miss the riding. “I have a great life. I love it, the training. Great, great. Really enjoying it,” he says – and he clearly means it.

He’s realistic about the sport’s finances as he surveys his 28 horses. Quality matters, he stresses. The way things are, you don’t want to get massive for a year or two.”

He’s also confident enough to be his own trainer – despite having ridden for the very best. “I like to do my own things, it’s our own place, and make the most of the beach and rivers.”

He will always pick up the phone to the aforementioned Smiths if he needs any counsel. “Whether Sue or Harvey answers, you know their advice will be the same. What they don’t know isn’t worth knowing.”

And he’s full of praise for conditional jockey Jack Tudor who has been integral to the past successes of Potters Corner and is entrusted with the ride on Cap Du Nord.

“Brilliant. I’d known about him a long time and he’d only had a couple of chase wins before I put him up on Potters in the Welsh National,” said Williams. “I knew he was good enough. Not many did. He only lives a mile and a half away and is still at home with his parents. Being in the yard helps keep him grounded.”

If Williams gets his way, Tudor will have to choose between Potters Corner and Cap Du Nord in this year’s National.

Yet while he knows, from painful experience as a jockey, that the best laid plans can go awry, his enthusiasm is infectious as he envisages saddling runners in the world’s greatest race – and attempting to go one better than he did as a rider in 2005.

“It would be brilliant for a small yard like ours. It’s the race everyone watches,” adds Williams. He also won’t mind the phone ringing of the hook.

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