Williams icy about Cone's prospects

It is not always easy to pinpoint the moment when a trainer stops being "up-and-coming" and starts being a leading member of the profession. Some make the transition through sheer durability, by sticking around long enough, and sending out just enough good winners. But not Venetia Williams. She muscled in to the top ranks in the time it took Teeton Mill to annihilate his field in the King George VI Chase, almost precisely one year ago.

It is not always easy to pinpoint the moment when a trainer stops being "up-and-coming" and starts being a leading member of the profession. Some make the transition through sheer durability, by sticking around long enough, and sending out just enough good winners. But not Venetia Williams. She muscled in to the top ranks in the time it took Teeton Mill to annihilate his field in the King George VI Chase, almost precisely one year ago.

Williams had already saddled plenty of winners, of course, with a strike-rate which only the most suicidal punter could ignore. Teeton Mill himself had already trotted up in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury. But it was only when he joined Desert Orchid and One Man, his fellow greys, as a winner of the Christmas championship that her accelerated rise to the top of the tree was complete.

This year's Christmas programme, though, promises to be rather quieter. Teeton Mill will be back at Kempton on Monday, but only to lead the parade before the King George. The leg injury which almost cost him his life, sustained in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, continues to keep him off the track, and it is still far from certain that he will race again. "He's just cantering very quietly at the moment, it's very light exercise," Williams said yesterday. "It was a wonderful race to win, but I don't think we want to talk too much about the future with him. We'll just have to see."

With no runner in the King George, Williams' best hope of a valuable winner over Christmas looks to be Sparkling Cone, who will make his seasonal debut in the Welsh National next Tuesday. This is not a race in which many punters make a habit of backing a horse without a previous run. If it happens to be trained by Venetia Williams, though, most will make an exception, as bookmakers know all too well, which may explain why the gelding is at relatively short odds in the ante-post lists.

The form of his win on heavy ground at Chepstow last season, from just a 3lb lower mark than he races off next week, certainly gives him a live each-way chance. To hear Williams' downbeat assessment of his prospects, though, you would think he had no chance.

As the trainer points out, he won two of his five races last season, but in the other three, he ran so poorly that he was pulled up. "I really wouldn't get too excited," Williams said. "He's pulled up more often than anything else, and this is far and away the most competitive race he's ever run in. He's well in himself, but he's been well in himself in the past, and pulled up, so there's really no telling."

Sparkling Cone does at least seem to go well fresh, although it is not necessarily part of a cunning master-plan that he will go to Chepstow without a run under his belt. "With a rating of 133, there's not really that many races I can run him in," his trainer said. "I really wanted him to go in the first race on the card, which is sponsored in memory of his owner's late husband, but that was a 0-130, so he just missed out."

When a trainer sounds this pessimistic, there can be but two results: abject defeat, or a 30-length victory. Downbeat she may be, but Williams' large and devoted band of followers will still hold out every hope of the latter.

The field for the King George on Monday may be down to single figures by race day, following the news that Dorans Pride is more likely to stay in Ireland for the Ericsson Chase at Leopardstown the following day.

"The transport over to England is a big problem over the holiday period," Michael Hourigan, his trainer, said yesterday. "I'm going to be speaking to the owners again and we won't make a decision until near the time we have to declare tomorrow. But I would have to say that my preference would be to race at Leopardstown anyway."

If Dorans Pride is absent, a maximum of 11 runners would remain to face the starter. Both Strong Promise and Djeddah are possible non-runners, however, if forecast rain turns the ground soft.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with excess, cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?