Williams to keep Welsh National on home turf with High Chimes

At the best of times, backing the winner of the Coral Welsh National can be an uncomfortable imperative for those wondering how they are supposed to pay for the indulgences of Christmas. And these, as everybody knows, are not the best of times.

In the circumstances, no doubt, one should be wary of making too bold a leap of faith. One should acknowledge the presence of that teak race specialist, Halcon Genelardais, and dangerously handicapped rivals such as Mon Mome. One should dread the random misfortunes inevitable when 20 horses jump 22 fences over the best part of four miles of muddy Monmouthshire. In this particular instance, moreover, one should certainly not be led astray by the pleasing sentimental coherence offered by a horse trained by a Welshman, in the Vale of Glamorgan – in a race overdue a home winner, a first since 1965 in fact, at a time of remarkable prosperity in the Welsh sport. Suitably chastened, one would tiptoe meekly into the minefield.

But to the devil with all that. For if High Chimes (below) does not run a mighty race today, then Evan Williams is a Chinaman. At 9-1, in fact, it is a case of ding dong merrily.

True, those persuaded to back this horse for his comeback race, at Newbury last month, will be perfectly within their rights to look elsewhere after he managed no better than sixth. But credulity to some will be credibility to others. For it is not hard to revisit his performance as a perfect rehearsal for this target – one, after all, that might very well have concentrated the mind of his gifted young trainer.

The way he travelled through the race, off a 14lb higher mark, permitted little doubt that High Chimes retains scope for further progress after his decisive success at the Cheltenham Festival. That had been only his eighth start under Rules, after all, and Williams had very much let him grope his way towards that breakthrough. Admittedly it was disconcerting to see High Chimes lose his place as the screw was turned at Newbury, but he stayed on powerfully in the straight despite being repeatedly switched round horses. Nor was he given a hard race once the cause was lost – quite rightly – and overall it must be allowed that he had laid solid foundations for the rest of his season.

If all remains well with HIGH CHIMES (nap 2.05), it seems impossible to envisage him failing to pick up a good prize somewhere soon, and off 10st 2lb he may not get a better chance than today. The biggest caveat is that conditions might well blunt the class of a horse who travels unusually well for a staying chaser, with cold, dry weather – cold enough, indeed, to merit an inspection this morning – putting extra gravity into going officially described as soft.

Unmistakably this is an important day for Williams, who also saddles three in the big juvenile hurdle. They face a formidable rival in Walkon, who made an honourable attempt to concede 7lb to the JCB Triumph Hurdle favourite at Newbury 10 days ago, but he has not had much time to recover from that generous effort. Simarian (2.40) has looked a rather less fluent hurdler so far, but he has improved for a test of stamina and could be best suited by the demands of this race.

There are other interesting juvenile heats at Wetherby, where Sacrilege (1.55) might be better suited by the course than Art Exhibition, and Kempton, where Starluck (next best 1.05) can confirm himself one of the season's sharpest juveniles after impressing on similar circuits at Fakenham and Huntingdon.

Williams, meanwhile, is also represented in a good race on the same card, but Deep Purple has had only eight days' rest since winning at Ascot and meets an impressive course-and-distance winner in Oumeyade (1.40).

The biggest prize offered in Sunbury today is the Desert Orchid Chase, where Petit Robin remains a potential banana-skin after getting nowhere near his limits against lesser rivals at Newbury last month. But for now Twist Magic (3.15) sets the standard after showing signs of revival on his reappearance behind Master Minded.

The Christmas meeting at Leopardstown continues with an opportunity for Hurricane Fly to justify the billing of the Paddy Power Future Champion Novices' Hurdle, while tomorrow the Lexus Chase features the reappearance of Neptune Collonges, the horse who completed that famous 1-2-3 for Paul Nicholls in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Nap: High Chimes (Chepstow 2.05)

NB: Starluck (Kempton 1.05)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world