Just Williams: a thriving Brecon tradition

You could do worse this week than back horses trained by trainers called Williams. It’s only Wednesday, but already there have been 5 winners trained by different trainers with that surname this week.

The Williams story began on Sunday at Ffos Las, where Point-to-Point form found its way to the top table in the partnership of Christian Williams and Jack Tudor in the Star Sports Bet Owners Club Guarantee Handicap Chase. Powerful Position held on by a neck to win, giving the stable its 14th winner of the term.

Not to be upstaged by his former stable jockey, Evan Williams responded 30 minutes later with a winner of his own, when Adam Wedge had a rather easier passage aboard To Be Sure in the 2m7f handicap hurdle.

The two Welshmen train around 20 miles apart, just west of Cardiff, in an area of South Wales where training steeplechasers is a growth business. Along the M4 corridor can be found a whole string of trainers (not all called Williams, mind), including David Brace, at in Pembrokeshire, Peter Bowen and Rebecca Curtis. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised to see horses trained by Williams in Wales. The name has its roots in Brecon and Monmouth, and has Belgian dn German roots from wil – desire,  and helm – helmet or protection.

But you don’t need to train in Wales to be called Williams, and the last of three Williams-trained winners at Ffos Las on Sunday was Venetia Williams’ Desque de L’Isle, a French-bred chaser successful in the closing handicap chase under Charlie Deutsch. Williams trains in Ross-on-Wye, not a million miles from the Monmouth county border.

Bangor Racecourse is no more in Wales than Chester, but the odd racegoer has muddled up Bangor-on-Dee and Bangor in mid Wales before now. The picturesque racecourse was the scene for another bout of Williams-it is this afternoon, starting in the opener, when Devon-based Nick Williams sent out the unpronounceable Yggdrasil to win the 2m4f handicap chase. Now with a name like that, you’d expect Yggdrasil to have been bred in the Welsh valleys at least, but in reality the four year old is a French-bred. Nick is fluent in French so it’s no surprise many of his horses carry names with French roots. He’s another trainer ready for a tilt at racing in France.

Devon trainer Nick Williams Pic: Sportinglife.com


Nick is married to Jane, mother of Lizzie Kelly, now retired, and one of the pioneering early twenty-first century lady jockeys. Jane used to train Pointers, then began training each under her own name with her own horses, so for all that they train from the same premises,  I suspect a bit of one-upmanship exists. It certainly appeared so after Jane won the third race of the day, a maiden hurdle, with a horse called Saint Segal, another French-bred.

The jockey? Nick’s son Chester… Williams. And it’s only Thursday. Time for a few more yet…