Christian Williams has decided to take the Tiger Roll route to Aintree with Potters Corner, and will skip a defence of this month’s Welsh Grand National in favour of the cross country chases at Cheltenham.
Potters Corner was a famous home winner at Chepstow last year, owned and trained by proud Welshmen, so the decision to stay away this time must have been a tough one – but Williams is adamant he is doing the best thing by the 10-year-old.
Potters Corner finished third on his first run over Cheltenham’s cross country course last month, and is set to return next week and then again at the Festival in March.
“I know the horse well and I know how long it took him to recover last year,” said Williams.
“I told the owners last year he only had a certain amount of those National-type races left in him – and with the cross-country races, they are constantly on the turn and it’s not the same endurance.
“The ground is never too soft either, because they only race on it three times a year, (so) it doesn’t get opened up.
“It’s completely different – after he ran in the cross country last month, he could probably have run somewhere else the next day. But after the Welsh National, we were goosed for months before he was back to himself.
“We think he could win the Welsh National again this year, but I put it to the owners that we could go to Cheltenham with a realistic chance and still have him for Aintree – and they were brilliant about it.
“We think he’s got a good chance at Aintree – it will suit him, and we also think he deserves to go to the Festival with a chance.
“It was his first time over the fences the other day, so we rode him conservatively but we were delighted how he took to it. We’ll probably ride him further forwards next time and further forwards again in March – and he always comes on for a run.”
Williams will also scratch his other Welsh National entry, four-year-old Kitty’s Light – who was placed in the Badger Beers Trophy last time out.
He added: “Kitty’s Light will be scratched as well. He’s only four, so we might look at the Rowland Meyrick with him, and his main aim will either be the Bet365 Gold Cup or even the Scottish National – we’ll work backwards from there.”
The trainer saddled a good winner at Newbury on Saturday in Cap Du Nord, and this time next year Chepstow could be on his agenda.
“Cap Du Nord might just be a staying chaser in time,” he said.
“He’s been a great horse for us. I think he’s the type who copes better in better races. We thought he was better than his rating, and he’s in a better place this year.
“He could be a Scottish National type. I don’t want to say he doesn’t go on soft yet, but he broke the track record at Newbury.
“He’ll probably go to Kempton on December 27 for a 0-140 – and then I’d have thought the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster, which I won as a jockey on Big Fella Thanks, would be the race for him.”
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