Kel Du Large helped give Jane Williams the perfect start to 2024 after securing the triumphant trainer a first winner in her own name at Cheltenham when making it two wins from as many starts in the Family Fun “Junior” National Hunt Flat Race.
Although sent off a relatively unfancied 16-1 chance on his debut at Exeter in October the No Risk At All gelding was sent off the 7-2 joint-favourite to maintain his unbeaten record in the Listed contest.
And having raced prominently throughout the one mile six furlong contest the four-year-old gelding was not for stopping under David Noonan with the pair pulling clear during the closing stages to defeat Dirty Den by two- and three-quarter lengths much to the delight of most of the 33,200 crowd.
Chester Williams said: “It has all been quite easy as he has bounced out and made the running and nothing ever got to him. It was a good performance, and he is clearly a nice horse.
“It is actually mum’s official first winner at Cheltenham. She has trained plenty of winners here with Nick (Williams), but to have one in her own name it will mean a lot to her.
“The owners are very good supporters. Tom Chadney and this syndicate, along with the Chasing Gold Racing Club which he also runs are big supporters of the yard. It is so good to get a winner here for them.
“He went to Exeter as it is the most local track to us, and it was a junior bumper and we thought that was a nice race to run him in to start off with.
“He surprised us all when he won that day, but after that we had to aim to come here.”
No four-year-old has won the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival since Cue Card back in 2010, however Williams has not ruled out the prospect of Kel Du Large appearing in the Grade One contest in March.
Williams added: “That’s beyond my pay grade (to make a decision over the Champion Bumper). I’m not sure what we will do. He is only four. Cue Card won the Champion Bumper when he was four, but he was exceptional.
“At home he has been a touch mentally fragile, but he has come here today and he has been an absolute professional from the moment he has got here. He has not been fazed by the crowd and as soon as he has hit the front he has gone and done it. He is an absolute professional.
“Come October he will be novice hurdling, but I wouldn’t know what will happen now, but it wouldn’t be impossible (that he came back for the Champion Bumper) as he is a proper horse.”