With eight winners in the last two weeks, Herefordshire trainer Venetia Williams has her horses in good form and she continued her winning ways with a treble at Warwick’s Air Ambulance Countryside Day on Sunday, writes David Hucker
Few were fancied in the betting market in the opening Coln Valley Stud Novices’ Hurdle over two miles, with odds of 50-1 and upwards on offer for half the field.
Two that were well supported were Count Meribel, who looked the likely winner at Towcester on his previous start until making a mistake at the last flight, and the Williams-trained Grand Turina, who had chased home the useful River Wylde at Ludlow.
The race mirrored the betting, as they were the only two to have any chance from a long way out with Grand Turina, who had gone into a clear lead with a circuit to travel, overcoming an error at the final hurdle to hold off the challenge of her market rival and give conditional jockey Charlie Deutsch his 22nd success of the season.
Williams was looking to double up in the following TBA EBF Mares’ Steeplechase with former French horse Buttercup, who had come good at Towcester on her ninth start for the yard.
Winning jockey that day Liam Treadwell was again in the saddle and, although joined at the third-last fence by Kayfleur, they went clear in the home straight for an 18-length success.
After winning a maiden hurdle at Southwell 15 months ago, Robin Of Locksley had gone seven races without looking like getting his head in front again and owner Simon Caunce was hoping that a change of scenery would rekindle the fire.
He could not have wished for better as, having left Dan Skelton for new trainer Caroline Bailey, Robin Of Locksley turned the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance Handicap Hurdle into a procession, making all the running with Sean Bowen to finish 35 lengths clear of the field.
The six finishers were well strung-out in the feature Six Nations Rugby At 188Bet Handicap Chase, but West Of The Edge came home like a fresh horse to scoop the first prize for jockey Sam Twiston-Davies and trainer Dr Richard Newland.
Previous winner Carli King had set a good pace in the testing ground, but it was West Of The Edge who came through to take the lead at the penultimate fence and quickly establish an advantage over the rest of the contenders.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson was looking for his 158th winner of the season on Ballygown Bay in the concluding National Hunt Flat Race, but he had to settle for third spot as Shivermetimbers made a winning debut to complete the Williams treble.