In this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine, out today (13 February), we talk to Welsh National-winning trainer Christian Williams, where he explains his instinctive approach to training racehorses and why Potters Corner is drawing comparisons with Red Rum. Here we take a look around his yard and the stunning setting in which he trains his horses...
1. Christian Williams turns his racehorses out in groups of eight, whatever the weather.
“It’s only humans that thought we should keep horses inside. I don’t like seeing them locked in, but wandering outside with their ears pricked,” says Christian.
2. Most of Christian’s horses live out 24/7, with cosy rugs. Here, staff bring them in early in the morning for their daily exercise.
3. Christian’s yard is on the same farm where he grew up, at Ogmore-by-Sea in south Wales. A barn has been converted to house nearly 30 stables.
4. The string heads alongside the River Ewenny towards the coastline for a workout.
“We never have to go on the road, so if anyone does fall off, the horse just gallops back along the tracks to the yard,” explains Christian.
5. Heading off the dunes on to the beach at Ogmore-by-Sea. The inclines of the dunes are useful hillwork.
“We work really slowly in the dunes because it’s heavy sand,” says Christian.
6. A gallop on the beach — Christian trains one of the favourites for the Grand National, Potters Corner, and comparisons are being drawn with the mighty Red Rum, who was also trained on a beach.
“There is quicksand, but because I’ve grown up here, I know where is safe,” says Christian.
7. A quick dip in the sea — the string cools off with a paddle in the North Atlantic Ocean.
8. Hydrotherapy — at the start and end of every ride, the horses go through the River Ewenny. Any horses with a history of leg trouble, such as Grand National hopeful Potters Corner, benefit from standing in the cold water.
“Potter stands in here for 20 minutes every day,” says Christian.
9. Potters Corner — Christian with his stable star in front of the 12th-century Grade I castle ruins by his yard.
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