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)

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

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician - 1st Line

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They have been providing local ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive / Trainee Managers

£6000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for smart, orga...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers / Car Movers

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones