Silver Streak win at Kempton a bright spark for trainer Evan Williams

By Rhianydd Lee-JonesBBC Sport Wales
Trainer Evan Williams operates out of his base near Llancarfan in the Vale of Glamorgan
Trainer Evan Williams operates out of his base near Llancarfan in the Vale of Glamorgan

The postponement of the Welsh Grand National failed to ruin a Christmas to remember for trainer Evan Williams.

Vale of Glamorgan-based Williams won the Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day when 13-2 shot Silver Streak romped home to win at Kempton.

The grey gelding was previously best known for his shock placing at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, where he finished third in the Champion Hurdle at a starting price of 80-1.

On Boxing Day Silver Streak finally got the Grade One win he had been chasing ever since, when he shocked this year's Champion Hurdle winner and 1-5 favourite Epatante.

"It's the journey that is the most enjoyable part of winning a Grade One race," Williams told BBC Sport Wales. "Once you get there it's more of a relief than anything.

"I suppose it's like any sport, whether you're an Olympian, a footballer or a rugby player. Those pinnacle events, the classic titles, are very difficult to win. When you get there, there's as much relief as euphoria. It's like climbing Mount Everest I suppose.

"When you set your heart on something you work so hard for it. Once you get there it's emotional, but you realise your dream is actually the hard work that goes into it: the blood, sweat and tears.

"It's not elation as much as sheer and utter relief that all that hard work and effort was worth it and you weren't just wasting your time all those years."

Silver Streak will now start his preparations for the Cheltenham Festival in March, where he will have his third shot at the Champion Hurdle.

The seven-year-old's price shortened to 12-1 following his Kempton win, but he still sits behind 11-4 favourite Epatante despite his three-length victory on Boxing Day.

"Silver Steak has recovered from the race and is looking fresh and well," said Williams.

"To beat last year's winner Epatante is a massive feather in Silver Streak's cap."

Silver Streak will join fellow Welsh-trained gelding Potters Corner as a leading contender for Cheltenham Festival success in March.

Potters Corner, part-owned by Scarlets, Wales and British and Irish Lions centre Jonathan Davies, is well fancied for the Cross Country Chase.

His trainer Christian Williams, a former jockey, rode more than 100 winners for Evan Williams and spent his Boxing Day cheering Silver Streak over the line from his living room.

"Silver Streak's win was brilliant - it was so great to watch," Christian Williams said.

"I was sat at home because we didn't have any runners that day, so I watched him race from the sofa with my partner and two children.

"We were jumping up and down cheering him on as if he was our own.

"Evan was really good to me when I was riding. I must have ridden over 100 winners for him. Now I'm a trainer his daughter, Isabel, sometimes rides for me.

"I managed to give her a winner last year which was great. Hopefully I can give his other daughter, Ellie, a winner in time."

Evan Williams was due to run Welsh Grand National favourite Secret Reprieve at Chepstow on 27 December.

The race was postponed until 9 January after Storm Bella left part of the track waterlogged.

Chepstow executive director Phil Bell was disappointed the meeting was abandoned but believes Welsh racing has a potential great in Silver Streak.

He said: "Silver Streak is just fantastic, an absolute star. He reminds me of Desert Orchid - another flying grey.

"He is so consistent and rarely runs badly, if ever. He is just a dream horse to watch. He is the perfect horse to be representing Welsh racing on the national stage."

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