Briery Queen breaks new ground for trainer on the up
Noel Williams got a taste for Cheltenham Festival success during his ten-year tenure as Alan King’s right-hand man but he has had to be patient waiting for the right horse to take him back there under his own steam.
Williams left King’s cradle to go it alone in 2013 and buoyed by a change of stable last year, is starting to make his mark.
Briery Queen became his first Cheltenham winner when splashing through the mud to win on her reappearance in December and the same mare today marks not only her trainer's first festival runner, but also his first representative at Grade 1 level as she takes on a fierce raiding party from Ireland in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.
“Winners count anywhere but the Mondays at Plumpton and the long trips to Hexham are stepping stones to days like this,” says Williams, who trains in the picturesque village of Blewbury in Oxfordshire.
"It’s the sort of day you do it for but I’m under no illusion. I’m just hoping she puts in a really good performance and does herself justice.”
Owned by breeder Helen Plumbly and Kathryn Leadbeater, Briery Queen has been with Williams from the off, which has made the journey to the festival all the sweeter.
Her trainer says: “She’s been my flag-bearer since the start; I just can’t believe I didn’t win a bumper with her! She’s just kept improving over hurdles and there will be worse 50-1 shots to have a crack at this week.
“I was with Alan all through those fabulous days he had and it certainly inspires you. I’ll be honest, the last few years I’ve slightly missed the build up, so it’s great to have bit of that buzz back again.”