Trainer of the Month with William Hill – Venetia Williams

Venetia Williams has started 2022 with intent and will look to continue that momentum this weekend.Venetia Williams has started 2022 with intent and will look to continue that momentum this weekend.

While January proved to be a sensational month for Venetia Williams, it is this season as a whole which has been so stunning for her yard. Operating at a 24% strike rate, her highest of this century, she is without question the star of the season within the training ranks. Here we look back on her stable stars’ performances and look forward to what may still be to come.

L’Homme Presse

Where else can we start, but with Williams’ unbeaten chaser?

The New Year could not have started in better fashion than with L’HOMME PRESSE continuing his remarkable development this season in the Paddy Power Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham. Leading from an early stage and jumping with deadly accuracy, he took his first Graded prize with consummate ease by ten lengths.

That was his third win in as many starts and shot him up the pecking order of British novice chasers. His innate ability over a fence and preference for a left-handed track should stand him in good stead for the Festival and a second start at Cheltenham.

And while we will focus mostly on what Williams’ horses will do next, how can we fail to mention what L’Homme Presse did next.

Perhaps Williams is already on course for the February Trainer of the Month award as the seven-year-old hacked up in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown. It is full now full steam ahead for March.

Frero Banbou

It was fairly inevitable given her form that Williams would claim a prize at Lingfield’s inaugural Winter Million meeting and it came via FRERO BANBOU’s victory.

Given an inspired ride by Charlie Deutsch, to whom Williams surely owes a fair amount of gratitude for her successes, Frero Banbou took the Handicap Chase. That victory came after three consistent efforts prior and was a long overdue win.

Unsurprisingly given the historic success of Williams’ horses on softer ground, that came on heavy going and he could well be very progressive under such conditions. The Grand Annual could come into view at the Cheltenham Festival.

Royale Pagaille

Another who simply excels on softer ground, ROYALE PAGAILLE won a second successive Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in January.

That came off a 7lb higher mark of 163 and bore true testament to his character. A battling victory by half-a-length was entirely different to his on-the-bridle romp of 12 months ago and set him up for another Cheltenham Gold Cup attempt.

Last year proved too much of a baptism of fire at the top level of him, especially on good-to-soft ground, but if ground conditions come up suitably for him, he may make his presence felt significantly more this time around.

Similarly, he now has a second-placed finish at Grade 1 level from the Betfair Chase to his name and the form his stable has been in, you would not write him off lightly.

Pink Legend

Conversely to those aforementioned stablemates, PINK LEGEND has made her money this season on a sounder surface.

Her January success came in the Listed Lady Protectress Mares’ Chase at Huntingdon, beating two last time out winners in Vienna Court and Maskada. It was a second win a that level after winning a Novices’ Handicap at Cheltenham last season.

It was also her second win of the season, but the improvement conjured by Williams between her previous two runs highlights what a sensational January she and her team had.

And More To Come…

ROYALE PAGAILLE may still have one more prep run for the Festival, as he remains entered in the Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday. There, he may well meet two-time King George winner Clan Des Obeaux and perhaps even star novice Bravemansgame.

Williams also has two other star entries as she look to continue January’s momentum. The first is BRAVE SEASCA, a horse with a very similar profile to L’Homme Presse. He was another winner in January and is entered in Warwick’s Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices’ Chase up against the likes of Edwardstone and Third Time Lucki. Like that pair, Brave Seasca also holds an Arkle entry.

Lastly, FUNAMBULE SIVOLA, a winner at Doncaster at the end of January, continues on a course back towards Graded company. He has still come as close as any horse apart from Energumene to challenging Shishkin and is currently engaged in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury this weekend.