RACING: Whiskey is the toast for rookie Williams

Oxford Mail: Noel Williams with Hot Whiskey N Ice, who gave him his first winner with victory at Uttoxeter Noel Williams with Hot Whiskey N Ice, who gave him his first winner with victory at Uttoxeter

Noel Williams was both relieved and overjoyed after Hot Whiskey N Ice gave him his first winner since setting up as a trainer at Blewbury, near Didcot.

The 36-year-old rookie handler’s predominantly jumps string moved into White Shoot Stables on July 1, and the gelding was only his fourth runner when scoring at Uttoxeter last Thursday.

Sent off a 16-1 outsider, the four-year-old galloped on powerfully under Wayne Hutchinson to beat hot favourite Forthefunofit by a length and a quarter in a National Hunt Flat Race over two miles.

And the success had added significance for Williams considering the connections of the runner-up.

“With a JP McManus-owned, Jonjo O'Neill-trained and AP McCoy-ridden odds-on shot, if he was placed I would have been delighted, but the fact that he actually went and won was a real bonus,” he said.

“To say I was cool, calm and collected when he crossed the line would be a complete lie because I went completely mad.

“It was a feeling of relief and joy – relief to get off the mark and joy to have a first winner.

“We came home and opened a bottle of champagne and had a few drinks. You have got to celebrate that first winner – it is important.”

It was also a timely tonic for the trainer after Cadgers Brig had to be put down following a freak accident with a lorry the previous week.

“We needed that first winner to make it feel as if we didn’t have bad luck,” he added. “It was nice to get it out of the way.”

Williams took the bold decision to branch out on his own after spending ten years as assistant to top National Hunt trainer Alan King at Barbury Castle, near Wroughton, in Wiltshire.

He said: “It was a good job and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, but I always had it in my mind I was going to train myself.”

Now Oxford-born Williams, who has a three-day eventing background, representing Great Britain’s Young Riders dressage team, is focused on his new venture.

“This seemed the ideal size and set-up to get started from,” he said of the yard he rents from the Johnson Houghton family, who are based at the neighbouring Woodway stables.

“There are only 18 boxes. I hope to outgrow it at some point as that will mean we are doing well.”

His string of 12 consists mainly of youngsters.

And he added: “A lot of these horses are for the future. Consequently I have set no targets this season.

“How well they do in the future will tell me how well I’ve done now.”

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