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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Williams conquers TauntonHeadlines
Venetia Williams with Aidan Coleman

Trainer Venetia Williams and jockey Aidan Coleman heaped the pain on the bookmakers by providing three of the seven winning favourites at Taunton.

The red-hot combination took Williams' seasonal total past the half-century mark, and their impact only scraped the surface, with the other four events also going the way of a market leader.

There was an element of fortune for Coleman about win number one, where Emperor's Choice (6-4 favourite) inched past Shuil Royale and Guess Again by a respective short head and a head in a phenomenal finish for the Annual Membership Proves Great Value Beginners' Chase.

"When I jumped the second-last I thought I'd win, but I got my reins in a muddle. Fair play to the horse, he got the job done," said Coleman, who was given a two-day ban (January 21-22) for using his whip above the permitted level.

Second for the team was Bennys Mist (5-4 favourite), who clambered over the final fence of the BBC Stargazing Live Here 10th January Handicap Chase but was still far beyond recall, then it was up to 4-6 market leader Jupiter Rex to follow up last week's course and distance triumph in the Come Racing For A Tenner 29th January Handicap Hurdle.

Ruby Walsh inflicted further damage upon the layers, dropping in to test two young hopefuls from the Paul Nicholls academy and leaving with a double.

Sound Investment (5-6 favourite) was first to make his mark in the Happy New Year Maiden Hurdle. Graham Wylie's £100,000 purchase had been given a hurdling baptism of fire when introduced to obstacles against the high-class Puffin Billy at Newbury, but faced nothing of that calibre here and scored by 12 lengths.

"A first-time tongue strap has helped, and this was a different quality of race to the one against Puffin Billy. His jumping was OK, but could be better, and it will be on better ground. He hasn't any fancy targets but you'd find a stepping-stone race under a penalty now," said Nicholls' assistant, Dan Skelton.

Saphir Du Rheu was arguably even more impressive than his stablemate, despite his winning margin being a length shorter in the Castle Hotel In Taunton "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle, while Paul Webber's Cantlow (4-9 favourite) continued on his own path towards the Cheltenham Festival when landing an uncompetitive Hippychick Novices' Chase.

"AP (Tony McCoy) said he was hating the ground, particularly in the straight. We are just trying to get some experience into him. He doesn't have to run again before March, where I'd imagine he'd go for one of the two-and-a-half-mile handicaps, although it's up to the powers that be to decide," said Webber.

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