King's Odyssey leads Williams big guns into Cheltenham battle
Evan Williams is ready to unleash two of his stable stars at Cheltenham on Saturday with King’s Odyssey heading for the Grade 3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup and John Constable on track for the Grade 2 Unibet International Hurdle.
King’s Odyssey, who was still travelling well when falling at the 12th fence in the same race last year, has been popular in the ante-post market for Saturday’s big handicap chase and is vying for second favouritism from a 7lb lower handicap mark than last year at a general 6-1.
“His fall last year shook him to the core and he had a tough time after that,” said Williams on Thursday. “It’s been a long old job to get him back but he showed more promise last time.
“That was a massive step in the right direction and we thought it would be nice to aim him at this race again.”
King’s Odyssey is one of 11 declared for the 2m5f contest, market leader of which is Clan Des Obeaux (4-1), who heads three runners for Paul Nicholls along with Le Prezien and Romain De Senam.
Williams added: “We’ve always hoped King’s Odyssey would be a horse for these types of races but they have to have everything right.
“He’s won very nicely at Cheltenham in the past on very testing ground and, at that level, I think very soft ground is important to him.
“His best form is on testing and the recent snow and frost should help us rather than hinder.”
Swinton and Summer Hurdle winner John Constable sidestepped the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at the start of the month due to heavy ground, but, despite the threat of wintry conditions at Cheltenham, Williams is keen to get the Dai Walters-owned six-year-old back on the track in Saturday’s International Hurdle, set to feature the likes of Melon, The New One and My Tent Or Yours in opposition.
"I’ve got to run him somewhere but the reality is I’m frightened of what we’re taking on," said Williams. "We’re a handicapper and we’re taking on the best conditions hurdle horses in the country.”
Despite showing his best form on good ground earlier in the year, Williams thinks John Constable is capable of handling softer conditions.
He added: “I’m sure he'll handle any ground but I can’t over-emphasise how much he changed in the spring of this year. He’s a different horse with the sun on his back."
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