Double festival delight for Venetia as Lucy rides high

Friday 25th March 2022 11:00 am
Venetia Williams (right) with L’Homme Presse and jockey Charlie Deutsch.
Venetia Williams (right) with L’Homme Presse and jockey Charlie Deutsch. (Venetia Williams )

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WYE Valley trainer Venetia Williams had a fantastic Cheltenham Festival with two winners and a host of places.

L’Homme Presse stormed to victory in the Grade 1 Brown Advisory Novices' Chase on Wednesday, before local amateur jockey Lucy Turner guided Chambard to a 40-1 triumph in the Kim Muir on Thursday.

Add to that seconds for Funambule Sivola and Pink Legend in the Champion Chase and Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase respectively, thirds for Frero Banbou and Didero Vallis in the Grand Annual and Kim Muir, fourth for Fanion D'Estruval in the Ryanair Chase, fifth for Royal Pagaille in the Gold Cup and Green Book in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, and sixth for Christopher Wood in the Coral Cup, and it all added up to an amazing week for the King’s Caple yard.

L’Homme Presse’s win under Charlie Deutsch saw the horse installed at 14-1 for next year’s Gold Cup - a fairytale win for the French mount following more than two years out with a tendon injury.

The 9/4F hit the front seven out and never looked threatened, racing away to win by 3.5L from Ahoy Senor with a string of massive leaps met with ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the crowd.

The win was even given the Royal seal of approval by Princess Anne, who quietly congratulated Williams as she waited to collect her trophy.

And the 2009 Grand National-winning trainer admitted: “I don’t think I’ve felt so sick during a race, which is rare, but I’m really looking forward to watching it again. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

“He’s such a spectacular jumper and even though he was favourite, it was lovely to hear the crowd cheer every time he put in a big leap.

“I think this race was always the most likely, but the only thing which would have changed our minds was if it was going to be heavy ground and even this rain has made it just soft ground.

“The horse was recommended to Andy Edwards (owner) after two runs in France, but then he picked up a tendon injury so he had to be very patient.

“He didn’t show a lot at home at first, it wasn’t until about three weeks before his first run for us that he showed us anything but he’s gone on and improved with every run.”

Deutsch said: “It’s just wonderful to have such a good season and then get a winner at Cheltenham.

“Venetia’s done such a good job of just handling this horse and Andy, the owner, is so easy. He’s very laid back and just leaves it to you.

“It’s a huge moment for me, it’s just wonderful and I’d like to thank anyone who has helped me.”

As well as the tendon injury, L’Homme Presse also trod on a four-inch long nail in January 2021.

And owner Andy admitted: “This morning at breakfast I got the video out when I picked him out in Normandy – he was gangly and didn’t know where he was.

“He had two months’ box rest and I picked him up to bring him back to England – it has been one emotional journey. I can’t explain how emotional it has been.

“I burst into tears when he went over the line – I’ve always believed in him – he’s fabulous.”

Chambard then followed L’Homme Presse into the winner’s enclosure by taking the Kim Muir Challenge Cup in a first Festival success for Turner, the daughter of Williams's former head lad Philip Turner.

Chambard jumped and travelled strongly throughout before keeping on strongly up the hill to claim victory.

The gelding’s 66-1 stablemate Didero Vallis, who is looked after by Turner at home, set the pace for much of the way before placing third, with 5-1 favourite Mister Coffee second 2.5L back.

And Lucy said: “It's absolutely unbelievable, it's what you dream of. I’d have been happy to have a winner at the hunter chase meeting, but this tops that!

"I left it up to him and he told me where he wanted to go and when he wanted to go.

“He was tanking down the back and jumping from fence to fence. He kept finding for me, he was unbelievable. I can't describe it really."

Venetia added: ”I am so thrilled for Lucy and the owners Dave and Carol Shaw, they've had to be so patient.

“He's finally putting his best foot forward and it's been really amazing.

"I'm very particular about how I like the riders to ride and Lucy's been with us since she was in the pony club.

“She rides in the forward style we love to see from Charlie Deutsch and horses run for her."

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