EVAN WILLIAMS'S infectious enthusiasm for his chosen career can only leave you feeling optimistic about his prospects for the current jumps season but it is an optimism borne very much on a factual basis and season after season his results tell the tale.
The Llancarfan trainer had to go steady in the Autumn when prolonged dry spell put many of team on hold but the more accustomed Winter weather has ensured that it is all hands on deck in the last couple of months and the winners have been flooding in once more.
With 34 winners to date and over £330,000 in prize money, Evan looks to have every chance of surpassing last seasons tally of 70 winners and over £809,000 and with several stable stalwarts and the likes of the progressive Clyne and Evening Hush as well as some newly blooded individuals to go to war with it looks happy days all around.
Evan said: "We were slow in the Autumn but we don't really have Summer and firm ground horses and we had to just wait. We have had a good solid strike rate in the last couple of months and let's hope we can continue in that vein."
Evan kindly spoke to Tony Elves of ATR about his main hopes for the season.
7 br g Flemensfirth - Miss Cozzene
131 rated chaser, In the process of running a very good race when falling three out in a two miles six and half furlong novices' handicap chase won by Belami Des Pictons at Newbury on New Years Eve. Previously third to Waiting Patiently and Forest Bihan at Newcastle (2m 1/2f) in December.
"He ran a solid race at Newcastle in December behind two good horses of Malcolm Jefferson's and Brian Ellison's and just got outpaced. He ran at Newbury on Saturday and was running a very good race until falling three out. He will be winning his novice chases over two and a half miles, two miles six and two miles seven. He is a horse who is coming now."
6 ch g Central Park - Nan
Winner of bumper at Towcester in Janaury of last year and placed in both of his novice hurdles failing by only three quarters of a length behind Ballymalin at Ffos Las (2m 6f) in December.
"He is a nice horse who got touched off by a nice horse of Nigel Twiston-Davies's at Ffos Las. He won't be long in losing his maiden tag and will stay three mile and maybe even further. He is a chaser in the making."
10 b g Tikkanen - Greenogue Princess
Best effort this season when third, beaten two and a quarter lengths to Taquin Du Seuil in the Grade 3 BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham (2m 4 12/f) off his current mark of 150.
"He is a grand old horse and an absolute smasher but he has had a lot of tough races and he ran no race in his last two races. We need to be careful with him as he could be coming to the end of his career if we are not careful with him."
6 br g Cape Cross - Playboy Mansion.
119 rated chaser. Scored by five lengths from Rock On Rocky off a mark of 114 at Ffos Las (2m) in December.
"He did it well last time and it was a bad race but he jumped a lot better than he has done. There is a lot of room for improvement in his jumping. It could have done him a lot of good winning and he's only off a 119 and is capable of winning off that. He's better than that and he's won one hurdle and a chase now and sometimes those Flat horses when they get winning can go on."
7 b g Hernando - Lauderdale
Progressive hurdler who has won his last four starts. A winner twice at Haydock this season beating Verni seven lengths off a mark of 132 over 1m 7 1/2f) in November following up with a nine length defeat of Le Rocher over two mile and three furlongs in December off a mark of 140.
"We haven't got to the bottom of him and the handicapper couldn't see him in the fog last time! He loves Haydock and will go for the Champion Hurdle Trial and then will get entries in the Gold Trophy at Newbury. The ground wouldn't come for him at Newbury in a normal time but we are going to get rain sometime and if it went heavy at Newbury he would run a big race."
10 b g Court Cave - Theatral
149 rated hurdler. Best effort this term when beaten only a neck by Hargam in a listed hurdle at Kempton (2m) in October.
"He's a grand old horse but the handicapper has him and he couldn't compete in conditions races. He needs a very hard run race and to be on the top of his game. I would say we are coming to the twilight years of his career now. I don't think he's the same as he used to be."
DE DOLLAR MAN
6 ch g Vinnie Roe - Dollar Bay
Winner of a point-to-point in Ireland in October and a bumper at Uttoxeter in December where he beat Dead Right a length and a quarter.
"He's a lovely horse and a smart type. He handled conditions in his bumper at Uttoxeter and would be a very tough and genuine horse. He will be jumping a hurdle shortly and he has schooled well at home."
11 br g Balakheri - Cutteen Lass
134 rated chaser. Fell three out when holding an eight length lead in the race won by Eastlake at Cheltenham (2m 1/2f in December.
"He is a legend and I think he would have won a minute last time had he not fallen at Cheltenham. For some reason he was just on fire and I have never had him in such good form. It he turns up like that again he will make them all go. He wants two miles and five horses wanting to make it with him. He is better with horses up his backside."
4 b g Excellent Art - Applause
144 rated hurdler, Winner of two of her three races over hurdles and scored by 21 lengths from Castafiore in a listed fillies' juvenile hurdle at Aintree (2m 1f) in December. Lost no caste in defeat when runner-up, beaten 13 lengths, to Defi Du Seuil in the Grade 1 Finale Hurdle at Chepstow (2m) later that month.
"She is a beauty and she ran a great race last time when beaten by Philip Hobb's Defi Du Seuil who is as good a juvenile hurdler that I have seen and he is machine. We were second best in the paddock and second best in the race but she ran a great race. She will try and win Grade 2 over hurdles for mares and will go to Doncaster at the end of the month. I think she is better suited to a Flat track which is why we are going to Doncaster."
FILLE DES CHAMPS
6 b m Robin Des Champs - South Queen Lady
101 rated hurdler. Came good at Ffos Las (2m 4f) in December when beating Misty Mai two and a quarter lengths off a mark of 93.
"She is ok and she is well related and she might go on now she has started winning. Those fillies' can get a bit of confidence and go on and let's hope that's the case with her."
10 b g Winged Love - Kiora Lady
141 rated chaser. Finished 8th to Native River in the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow (3m 5 1/2f) last week. Previously runner-up to Mountainous in that race last season when it was run in January.
"He ran a great race last week but the ground was too good for him and he wants it real deep. We will aim him for the Grand National Trial, the Midlands National and races like that. Haydock and Uttoxeter where they get a bit of cut in the ground is ideal for him."
7 b g Overbury - Gaye Sophie
Scored by three lengths from Forza Milan on his hurdling debut at Ffos Las (2m 4f) in November.
"He is a smart little horse. There is not much of him but I think he will win with a penalty and he is right for staying trips."
10 b g Overbury - Scorpio Girl
126 rated chaser. Finished third, beaten eight lengths, to Colin's Brother in a handicap chase at Ludlow (2m) in December off a mark of 127.
"He is a grand old horse who has done us proud over the years. He is just starting to wane now and isn't as good as he was but he ran well last time at Ludlow and hopefully will find a race in due course."
6 b g Montjeu - Dance Parade
134 rated hurdler. Unplaced to Theligny in a handicap hurdle at Newbury (2m 4 1/2f) last Saturday.
"He has never won a handicap and I think he is soft. In novice hurdles he look ok and he ran a good race in the Gerry Fielden at Newbury one year. He was a good enough flat horse and we will try him over further and he will find his level one day."
8 b g King's Theatre - Ma Furie
147 rated chaser. Travelling well when falling at the 12 in the Grade 3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup won by Frodon at Cheltenham (2m 5f) in December.
"He is a nice horse and he was running a good race when he fell at Cheltenham. He will probably go back to Cheltenham at the end of January there is another good handicap chase over two miles five."
5 b g Oscar - Simply Joyful
Finished third, beaten 11 lengths, to River Wylde in a maiden hurdle at Ludlow (2m) in December.
"He ran well in his bumper and ran a better race in his hurdle which was a warm maiden at Ludlow. He galloped and jumped and just got a bit tired in the latter stages. He is probably a next season horse but is well up to winning his maiden this year."
MR KIT KAT
7 ch g Lucarno - Makeabreak
122 rated hurdler. Winner of a maiden hurdle at Sedgefield (2m 1f) in May and a novice hurdle at Worcester (2m) in June. Runner-up, beaten only a length and a quarter, to Instant Karma on his only other start in a handicap hurdle at Newton Abbot (2m 2 1/2f) in August off a mark of 120.
"He is a horse who progressed on Spring and Summer ground and he has had a Winter break. He will come back for a nice handicap in the Spring and might be a horse for something like the Swinton Hurdle."
7 br g Indian River - Jurado Park
127 rated chaser. Finished fifth, beaten nine and a quarter lengths, to Burtons Well at Uttoxeter (2m 4f) on New Years Eve off his current mark.
"He is a lovely type of horse who has run well in both his starts this season. He should soon find a race."
5 br g Craigsteel - Andrea Gale
Scored by a length and three quarters from Crievehill at Ludlow (2m) in November.
"He's a lovely horse for the future and he will be stepped up in trip. He will make a lovely staying chaser in time."
ON THE ROAD
7 b g Stowaway - B Greenhill
105 rated chaser and 112 rated hurdler. Winner of handicap hurdles at Fontwell (2m 3f) and Exeter (2m 5 1/2f) in November. Runner-up, beaten 13 lengths, to Cabragh in a novices handicap chase at Sedgefield (3m 2 1/2f) in December off a mark of 101.
"He disappointed last time over fences and the handicapper has probably got him really. He has won his hurdle race and hopefully we can win a little handicap over fences with him. He is no great shakes but he's progressed."
9 b g Croco Rouge - Galant Tour
139 rated chaser. Finished third, beaten 14 lengths, to Aso in a handicap chase at Chepstow (2m 3 1/2f) in December off a mark of 140.
"He ran well at Chepstow last time. He bled at Newbury the time before but had run a very good race at Aintree behind Thomas Brown on his reappearance in November. I have funny feeling his is a horse who will improve for a step up in trip and I don't think we have got to the bottom of this fella - I think there is a very nice race in him somewhere one day."
10 b g Oscar - Derravarra Sunset
134 rated chaser. Finished last of three to Le Prezien and L'Ami Serge in a graduation chase at Exeter (2m 1/2f) in December.
"He is an absolute legend this horse and he has had trouble with his front legs all of his life and still tries very hard. He wins a race every now and then and is a lovely horse who tries his heart out for you and is an absolute smasher."
5 b g Westerner - Rose De Beaufai
Winner of a bumper at Sedgefield in November and finished third, beaten only a length and three quarters, to Robinshill on his hurdling bow at Ffos Las (2m) in December.
"He looks nice and he won his bumper nicely which wasn't much of a race but he ran very well over hurdles first time at Ffos Las. You wouldn't want to do too much with him this year but he looks well up to winning his maiden hurdle."
7 b g Oscar - Rose De Beaufai
146 rated chaser. Progressing well and scored by four and a half lengths from Ibis Du Rheu in a handicap chase at Chepstow (2m 7 1/2f) in December off a mark of 139
"He is a smasher and is Oxwich Bay's brother. He is a big rangy gangly horse who didn't show much as a hurdler but has come into his own over fences. He is potentially a good horse and I was very taken by his last performance and he is improving all the time. He is better with some cut in the ground and the further you go the more improvement you will get out of him."
6 br g Primary - Next Venture
125 rated hurdler. Winner over hurdles at Sedgefield (2m) in November and runner-up, beaten two and half lengths, to Daklondike at Lingfield (2m) later that month.
"He is a very nice young horse who has done nothing wrong in his life. He won his maiden nicely and ran a very good race last time. He was due to run over the brush hurdles at Haydock but it was abandoned. He is up to winning another race this year but will be a smashing chaser next year."
REPORT TO BASE
5 b g Westerner - Marina Du Berlais
135 rated hurdler. Winner of a novice event at Uttoxeter (2m) in November and runner-up twice since in similar events most recently when beaten four and a half length by Coo Star Sivola in a listed contest at Cheltenham (2m 4 1/2f) on New Years Day.
"He ran another good race in a listed race at Cheltenham on Sunday and he is progressing well. He will be a smashing chaser next year but can win his share over hurdles this year."
8 b g Golan - Granny Clampett
132 rated chaser. Pulled up in a novice chase won by A Hare Breath at Bangor (2m 1 1/2f) in December but had previously scored by three lengths from Indian Rupee in a beginners chase at Worcester (2m 4f) in September.
"He is a tough genuine sort but he can't jump fences as well as he did his hurdles. He didn't finish sound last time but is sound as pound now. I would say we would run him over hurdles somewhere and then go chasing again in the Spring."
4 gr g Dark Angel - Happy Talk
96 rated hurdler. Promise in his first three runs over hurdles and having his first outing for the stable when hacking up by 12 lengths from Chief Brody in a juvenile handicap hurdle at Taunton (2m 1/2f) last week.
"He was very well handicapped and is one of those juveniles who is starting to fill into his strength now. He is by a super sire and they improve on the Flat and this fellow has probably just needed a little bit of time. He is one who should improve further."
9 b m Blueprint - I'm A Believer
126 rated chaser. Returned to winning form in a handicap chase at Cheltenham (2m 5f) on latest start in December when beating Treaty Girl ten lengths off a mark of 116.
"She is a superstar mare and, again, tough genuine and consistent. She is a Cheltenham winner which we would never have thought she would have been capable of but she is a joy to have around the place."
TEA IN TRANSVAAL
6 b m Teofilo - Mpumalanga
127 rated hurdler. Unplaced in two starts this season but won five times last season including a listed success at Newbury (2m 1/2f) in November 2015 when beating Colla Pier six lengths.
"Again, she is a smashing filly and she will be trained with a smart handicap in the Spring in mind. She doesn't want it too deep but she will turn up somewhere in a good race like the Imperial Cup or something like that in the Spring."
7 b g King's Theatre - Merrill Gaye
130 rated hurdler. Failed by only a short head behind Stamp Your Feet in a handicap hurdle at Hereford (2m) in December off a mark of 128.
"He is a tough genuine horse and he tries his heart out. He had a hell of a fall at Chepstow the time before last but bounced to run a great race when beaten only a short head at Hereford. He will struggle to win over hurdles off his mark but will make a smart chaser next year."
TORNADO IN MILAN
11 b g Milan - Julika
135 rated chaser. Scored by eight lengths from Owen Na View in a handicap chase at Ludlow (2m) in November off a mark of 126 and two creditable efforts in similar events at Chepstow since.
"He is one of those older horses who have done us proud through the years. He runs great races every time he goes to the track and he will mix chasing and hurdling and some of the lads will claim off him now to give the horse a chance."
9 b g Definite Article - Courtain
114 rated chaser. Came closest to victory this season when runner-up, beaten five lengths, to Dealing River in a handicap chase at Worcester (2m 1/2f) in September off a mark off 116.
"Look he hasn't won over fences yet but he is quietly getting there. He is a difficult horse to train and a difficult horse to win with but he will definitely have his day now sometime in the Winter."
6 b g Oscar - Voodoo Magic
116 rated hurdler. Only fourth, beaten nine and a half lengths, to Desert Sensation in a novice handicap hurdle at Ascot (2m 7 1/2f) off his current mark but previously beaten only three quarters of a length by Geordie Des Champs at Chepstow (2m 3 1/2f) earlier in the month.
"He is a horse who disappointed me last time at Ascot but we were quick enough on him after Chepstow and I think he's more than capable of losing his maiden tag over hurdles."
AQUA DUDE - jumped and travelled well until falling late in proceedings in a novices handicap chase at Newbury last week and can soon make amends.
CLYNE - mud lover who is improving with every race and more to come from him over hurdles.
DE DOLLAR MAN - time could tell he beat a smart rival in Dead Right in his bumper at Uttoxeter and worth following.
EVENING HUSH - against a top notch juvenile in Defi Du Seuil at Chepstow and can regain the winning thread against her own sex at Doncaster at the end of the month.
POBBLES BAY - finding chasing very much his forte and more wins to come from him this season.
REPORT TO BASE - found only one too good in a listed event at Cheltenham at the weekend and has more novices hurdle wins in him.