26 March 2023

Williams on weather watch for National hope Royale Pagaille

26 March 2023

Venetia Williams will keep an eye on the weather before deciding whether or not Royale Pagaille will run in the Randox Grand National.

The Rich Ricci-owned nine-year-old had chased home Bravemansgame in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and was then held back for a crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

However, the mud-loving gelding did not get the ground connections had hoped for and he finished sixth to Galopin Des Champs.

Williams became only the second woman to train a Grand National winner after Jenny Pitman following Mon Mome’s 100-1 shock victory in 2009.

She has Royale Pagaille and both Haydock’s National Trial winner and third, Quick Wave and Cloudy Glen, in consideration for the Aintree spectacular on April 15.

The Kings Caple-based handler is now waiting on the weather forecasts before making any decisions, in particular where Royale Pagaille will run next, with both the Grand National and the Irish edition of the race – where he would shoulder top-weight – under consideration.

She said: “They are all fine. Royale Pagaille ran well.

“A week before, I thought he would get the ground he liked, with all the rain that was promised, yet it didn’t really come.

“But he still ran a super race. He will have have another run. He is in both the Irish and the English Nationals and there is no decision yet as to where he goes. Likewise, we will see how the others are before making any plans.”

We had such an amazing Cheltenham last year, we ended up running everything that got a run in it this year, which was probably a bit too gung-ho than we should have been

Williams gained Grade One glory with L’Homme Presse in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase and Chambard took the Kim Muir at last year’s Festival, while Funambule Silvola was a gallant runner-up in the Champion Chase and Pink Legend finished runner-up in the Mares’ Chase.

Following that was always going to be a big ask and she did not have the same fortune at the National Hunt highlight this time round.

Reflecting on the meeting, she said: “We had such an amazing Cheltenham last year, we ended up running everything that got a run in it this year, which was probably a bit more gung-ho than we should have been.

“We still had some good runs. Pink Legend was third in the Mares’ Chase, and that was a fantastic run in a much deeper race than last year. She reversed placings with the horse that beat her last year (Elimay).

“Green Book finished fourth in the Pertemps, only beaten three lengths, and Royale Pagaille we were delighted with.

“Funambule Sivola was fine after his fall in the Champion Chase. That was a real disappointment, as I thought he had a really good chance of running into a place again.

“He has been such a brilliant jumper that it caught him by surprise, as it did everyone else. He is fine, though.”

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