Turf Talk: Williams’ ‘mud slingers’ starting to fire

Jockey Brian Hughes.
Jockey Brian Hughes.
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Fionn Mac Cul can claim a second win at Carlisle and make a successful start to his career over fences in the Carlisle Annual Members Chase.

With the ground finally easing in many parts of the country, it is little surprise Venetia Williams is beginning to fire in a few winners, with the horses she trains often at their best when the mud is flying.

This five-year-old fits into that category and was brought along steadily last season after being bought from the Irish point-to-point field.

He improved from a rather uninspiring hurdling debut at Aintree to gain a narrow success at Taunton, before two miles at Wetherby proved too sharp, even in testing ground.

A step up in distance and the more demanding nature of Carlisle brought out his best when he was last seen back in February, earning him a 3lb hike to a perch of 128.

He goes straight into a novice handicap over fences off that mark and looks well treated, with the change of discipline expected to bring about considerable improvement.

Aided by jockey-of-the-moment Brian Hughes, Malcolm Jefferson has his team firing on all cylinders and the pair can hit the bullseye once more with Ballyben.

The eight-year-old joined Jefferson having previously been trained by Lucinda Russell prior to the start of this season.

He failed to justify favouritism on his debut for the yard at Hexham, but righted that wrong here with victory in October before a sound effort in defeat at Ayr.

The Edmundson Electrical Mark Graham Farewell Handicap Chase looks a competitive enough heat, but Ballyben gets the nod.

Late Night Lily can complete a hat-trick in the TBA Serena Gabriella Cruz Hill Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at Southwell.


CARLISLE: 12.00 Bubsy Burbidge, 12.30 Halcyon Days, 1.05 Above Board, 1.35 Ballyben, 2.10 Jennys Day, 2.40 FIONN MAC CUL (NAP), 3.15 Miss Tynte.

SOUTHWELL: 12.15 Musical Wedge, 12.45 Global Dream, 1.20 Sandymount, 1.50 Comely, 2.25 Late Night Lily (next best), 2.55 Laser Light (treble), 3.30 She’s Late.