Why rugby-mad Christian Williams and Jack Tudor are jump racing’s new force after Cap Du Nord’s success and Eider win for Ryan Mania on Win My Wings

IT is just a handful of years since Jack Tudor, just like so many Welsh schoolboys, harboured hopes of playing for Wales against England in rugby union’s Six Nations tournament.

Cap Du Nord ridden by Jack Tudor go on to win the Coral Trophy Handicap Chase at Kempton Park racecourse.
Cap Du Nord ridden by Jack Tudor go on to win the Coral Trophy Handicap Chase at Kempton Park racecourse.

Yet he soon realised that he did not have the necessary physical stature and his small frame might be better suited to a career as a jump jockey.

How apt, therefore, that the 19-year-old should have partnered Cap Du Nord to a thrilling win in Kempton’s Coral Chase in a big race clean sweep for Wales.

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Jack Tudor and Cap Du Nord at the end of Kempton's Coral Chase.

This, after all, is the track that is almost in the shadows of Twickenham where, just an hour later, England would edge Wales in a thrilling finish.

That the hosts prevailed – just – was about the only disappointment for Tudor and his rugby-mad trainer Christian Williams on another afternoon that they will never forget.

Not only did the Williams-trained Kitty’s Light finish second in the Coral Trophy Chase but, minutes earlier, Win My Wings landed the Vertem Eider Chase at Newcastle for 2013 Grand National-wining jockey Ryan Mania after a sustained gamble.

Jack Tudor and Cap Du Nord at the end of Kempton's Coral Chase in a one-two--three for Wales.

It was another big race success for Mania, one of Britain’s most accomplished steeplechase jockeys, thanks, in no small part, to his continuing alliance with Yorkshire racing legends Sue and Harvey Smith.

Yet it is also significant that the aforementioned Williams previously rode for the Smiths in a riding career that was curtailed by serious injury on countless occasions.

He’s first to admit that the experience that he gained at the Bingley stables has helped him to develop as a trainer and, in turn, develop young riders like the fresh-faced Tudor who the Smiths rate highly.

And Tudor, who is now on the brink of losing his conditional rider’s claim, was the first to admit this after Cap Du Nord provided him with a victory as memorable as his 2019 Welsh Grand National success on Potters Corner.

He can be heard on the jockey-cam cajoling his horse over Kempton’s final three fences before twice shrieking ‘yes’ in delight as he flashed past the winning post on a great day for Wales with Our Power third for trainer Sam Thomas.

“Kitty’s Light I’ve always held in high regard and I think he is probably the best horse we train. With the weight and everything, I think it was more in Cap Du Nord’s favour today which lent me towards him,” he explained.

“It wasn’t a great feeling when I looked over at two out and saw Kitty’s Light was half a length down on me but luckily we kicked on after two out and pinged the last and it has worked out brilliantly.”

Tudor, who told The Yorkshire Post recently how he was being spurred by the rivalry with a clutch of young Welsh riders, continued: “I love these staying chasers and Christian is very good at training them. The way we ride them it tends to suit the horses.

“It is brilliant and definitely up there with one of my best days. I was always confident I was going well and I knew that he would keep galloping. He was travelling and jumping well and I knew half way down the back I was in the right position and it was then just a case of he was good enough from two out. Luckily it worked out so I can’t complain.”

Meanwhile Williams was fulsome with his praise for Tudor – it is rare for any teenager, never mind a conditional, to be stable jockey at any yard.

“The reason we employ Jack is we know what he is capable of doing. We let him go out there. We saw two years ago (Welsh National) how good he is. You can see on days like today how cool he is and he can ride far and above his age. He is top-class,” said Williams who announced the retirement last weekend of former Grade One winner Waiting Patiently after failing to revive the horse’s form.

“We thought it was a tricky one. Jack’s favourite horse is probably Kitty’s Light. I had to persuade him towards this one (Cap Du Nord) today. I knew Kitty was in good form and Jack texted me an aeroplane last week when Kitty did a piece of work.”

Williams explained that he deliberately targets high-profile races broadcast by ITV Racing in order to attract new owners to his stables in South Wales where he invariably works his horses Red Rum-style in the sea,

He also has high hopes for Win My Wings who was ridden with restraint by Mania before asserting in the home straight at the end of Newcastle’s four mile-plus marathon.

“We will probably go to France again now for the race she won last year (Prix Pansa Hurdle at Compiegne),” he added. “She travelled sweet all the way. She comes to herself in the spring and went there in good form.”

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