Evan Williams: yet to decide where to send Gayebury
By James Burn 12:46PM 28 FEB 2017
A RISE of 15lb from the handicapper has not helped Evan Williams settle on a firm festival target for Saturday’s Chepstow winner Gayebury, but the trainer is sure of one thing, and that is that the seven-year-old is good enough to have him dreaming of Cheltenham glory.
Formerly with Tom Symonds, Gayebury was bought by Williams last year and has won two of his four starts for new connections, the latest being a 13-length victory in the Chepstow mud on Saturday.
That resulted in a 15lb rise for the gelding, who is a general 14-1 for the Pertemps Final, but can be backed at 33-1 with Betfair for the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the festival.
Williams, whose sole Cheltenham winner came courtesy of High Chimes in the 2008 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase, said: “I think we’ll keep him in both races until closer to the time.
“I’ve looked at the replay of Saturday and what else could the handicapper do? I’m not that concerned by the rise and the step up in trip to three miles has been a massive help.
‘An interesting dilemma’
“I think we’re in a very fortunate position and it looks like our horse is a massive improver for a step up in trip. I didn’t know he would be, but the breeders have been telling me I was running him on the short side and it looks like he stays exceptionally well, which bodes well.
“He handles that [easy] ground so well and literally sluiced through it on Saturday, but perhaps the step up in trip will counteract the need for soft conditions, although I’d say he’d have to have some cut. He’s come out of the race exceptionally well, so it’s an interesting dilemma.
“His new handicap marks suggests he could play a hand in the Albert Bartlett and I still think he won very well; if you’d put another 15lb on him on Saturday it wouldn’t have stopped him. He would’ve won just as far.
“We’ll keep both options open, but I’m certainly not worried by the rise as we needed to go up in the weights to get in the Pertemps in any case. It’s a lovely position to be in.”
Williams, who also thinks fellow Cheltenham contenders Aqua Dude and De Dollar Man are “interesting types going the right way”, added: “It’s a strange old game and it can sometimes take a season to work out if they’re improvers and it looks like Gayebury is, and it’s a nice time of year to be improving. He was very impressive on Saturday and wasn’t stopping; he was galloping all the way to the line.
“He’s definitely ignited my enthusiasm for going to Cheltenham – there’s no doubting that. We’ve only had one winner at the festival and need to pull our finger out because our record is shocking, but fingers crossed with this horse; he’s very exciting.”