John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
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Win My Wings: a dominant Scottish Grand National winner
John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
By David Carr
He can talk about how he slows horses down, but Christian Williams is a man who has come a long way fast and he had a day of days with a one-two finish in the Coral Scottish Grand National.
The former top jockey once said he never really saw himself training – “it’s like it happened” – but he quickly became the man to beat in the best chases.
Potters Corner, winner of the Midlands and Wales Grand National, first showed his talent for training unlimited stamina in a promising fighter.
And less than five years after dispatching its first winner, Williams finished first and second in Scotland‘s biggest show jumping race of the year – emulating Ferdy Murphy in 2007 – with two horses that could have been bought for a combined total of £15,000, with change pending.
Coral Scottish Grand National: complete result and replay of the race
It didn’t even feel like hard work. Win My Wings, who had already added the Eider Chase to the thriving list of remaining chases on the trainer’s resume, simply took the lead at the penultimate close.
Williams had booked fancier Rob James in the belief that his 7lb claim would be necessary in light of an increase in handicap, but being 7lb overweight would not have stopped a mare who won at a canter by seven lengths of his stable mate Kitty’s Light, who remained well within five lengths of the rest in a race in which Jersey Bean was fatally injured in a fall.
“We thought we would come here with two horses that could win the race,” said the trainer. “We didn’t hide it, all week I was quite optimistic. I couldn’t separate them too much.
“But it was an amazing performance from the mare. I thought she was overdoing it a bit, but she is picking up a good pace. She obviously fits this track and she looked unstoppable today. These are the races you dream of.”
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Rob James celebrates on Win My Wings after winning the Scottish National
The Williams seaside yard in South Wales has quickly become synonymous with endurance and the trainer stresses that patience, shown in abundance by owner Sue Howell for over 20 years, is key.
“We train them very slowly and if my horse has ability and is owned by a good owner, you can satisfy them,” he said.
“We didn’t enter this mare in marathons until she was nine years old, the Eider Chase was her first try at the distance. We had trained her for four years without doing it. She didn’t wasn’t ready but she showed this year she was on her way to being able to raise him.”
Sweeping the top two places in a £150,000 race with two cheap buys is a real achievement and Williams said: “It’s brilliant for racing.
“Kitty’s Light went for £5,000 at a flat sale as a yearling and Win My Wings didn’t sell for nine grand at the Ascot sales. Nobody wanted her and we tried her We’re giving hope to other people that you don’t need to go to the Cheltenham sale and spend £300,000 or £400,000 on one.”
Scottish Grand National 2022: where your horse finished and who won
James is based in Ireland and was racing only his second winner in Britain, following the Kim Muir Chase on Milan Native for Gordon Elliott at Cheltenham in 2020.
It was an uphill battle compared to this wheelchair ride, his first in a race in Scotland.
“I couldn’t believe I was doing so well on the straight,” he said. “I was afraid to look around in case something was going to overtake me.
“She just galloped and galloped and jumped everywhere. She picked up a good pace and took me everywhere. It was amazing.
“She did it all herself and made me look good. I didn’t have to move a muscle on her. She was unreal.”
James was happy to grab headlines for happier reasons than when a 2016 video of him sitting on a dead horse circulated on social media last year.
He was banned for 12 months, eight of which were suspended, and said: “It’s all over now and we’re moving on. It was one of those things that’s behind me. It’s over now, thank God. It wasn’t not very fun. , but we’re past that point.”
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Christian Williams achieved an exceptional result in the Scottish Grand National
Williams passed Ayr, where he also won a hurdle race with the very impressive Stringtoyourbow on Friday, and is already preparing for the Grand National meeting, where only a fool would ignore his runners.
“We have two good chances at Aintree and I’m already looking forward to it, Cap Du Nord in a £100,000 race on Saturday and Five Star Getaway for Topham,” he said.
“We keep coming to these meetings with two or three horses and I hope people take us seriously.”
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