|Williams not blue over Purple National weight|
In common with the overwhelming majority of
trainers who attended the lunch at the presentation of the official weights
for the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree on April 14, Evan Williams
was satisfied with 11st 3lbs handed his classy chaser Deep Purple who is an
intended runner in the showcase event, writes Elliot Slater.
Williams has a tremendous record with Deep Purple's stable companion State Of Play, (who will once again be in the line-up for the 'world's greatest steeplechase'), having saddled the old timer to finish in the places in each of the last three seasons, and is hopeful that Deep Purple will also put up a bold show on the big day.
Accepting that on the balance of his overall form during the last few seasons the weight handed his 11-year-old was more or less as anticipated, Williams intends to give the gelded son of Halling one more outing before Aintree, most probably in the Grade 3 Racing Plus Chase at Kempton on February 25, a contest that would grant his charge a perfect seven-week break before tackling the daunting challenge of the Merseyside track.
Deep Purple has had just the one outing so far this season, but that was a winning performance as he defied his critics, (and rather surprised his trainer as well), to win the Otkritie London National Handicap Chase on his first attempt at an extreme distance.
Patiently ridden in the three-and-three-quarter-mile contest, Paul Moloney crept into contention inside the final half-mile at Sandown before producing his mount to lead at the final fence, from where he stayed on well up the hill to score by three-lengths and give connections every confidence he will get home over further at Aintree.
Bookmakers rate the multiple Grade 2 winner a 40/1 chance to give his trainer a first win in the coveted showcase Liverpool contest.