Want to know the winner of the Grand National in 2023? You heard it here first: when the ante-post books open, get in early on Kitty’s Light, trained by Christian Williams and to be ridden, I hope, by Jack Tudor.
Being married to a racing scribe is a bit like being an angler’s wife: you hear rather too often the tales of the one that got away. Mrs Oakley is so inured to my hard luck stories that she tells all her friends they can be sure that any horse I recommend will finish second. But after Sandown Park’s jump racing finale last Saturday, she conceded my point and consolingly opened a bottle of the expensive Condrieu we reserve for special occasions.
Kitty’s Light caught my eye in the three-mile Badger Beers Chase at Wincanton on 7 November last year. He was kept in the rear by Jack Tudor but started to improve from four fences out. At the third last, still 20 lengths behind the leader, he was almost brought down by a faller but then began to motor, scything through his rivals. Still eight lengths down at the last, with El Presente and Potterman battling in front of him, he was still gaining fast at the line to finish just three lengths behind them. He went straight into my notebook and was recommended to Spectator readers as one of our Twelve to Follow.
When I learned that Christian Williams was targeting him at the Bet365 Gold Cup over 3m 5f on championship finals day, I went in ante post and doubled my bet on the day. Williams, having tuned him up in an all-weather bumper and by winning a chase at Kelso, had Kitty’s Light looking a picture and Jack Tudor, as usual keeping his mount in the rear, rode a perfect waiting race.