AMATEUR rider Rob James rode the biggest winner of his career to-date on Saturday when partnering Win My Wings to a decisive success in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr.
Another big race success for Win My Wings and @CWilliamsRacing as they scoop the feature Grade 3 @Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase ??— Ayr Racecourse (@ayrracecourse) April 2, 2022
The mare travelled strongly throughout and quickly turned the race into a procession under a jubilant Rob James ?? pic.twitter.com/2lwqnHn7mW
The Wexford man was on board one of two runners in the race trained in Wales by Christian Williams and they finished first and second, but Win My Wings, the Eider Chase winner, was utterly dominant.
Win My Wings – the 13/2 joint-favourite with stable companion Kitty’s Light – was ridden with extreme confidence by James, whose 7lb claim offset almost all the 8lb rise she incurred for winning at Newcastle.
James had only ever ridden one other winner in Britain, Milan Native in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival, but is one of the most prolific winning point-to-point jockeys in Ireland.
Having settled his mare in mid-division behind a generous early pace, he kept out of trouble on the outside before joining Ask A Honey Bee a long way from home.
Stamina is the winner’s forte and as the likes of Major Dundee and Ashtown Lad began to tire, Win My Wings just pulled further and further clear.
James allowed her to coast home after the last, as Kitty’s Light stayed on dourly to claim second, seven lengths adrift. Major Dundee was third with Fidux fourth.
Williams said: “I feel sorry for Kitty’s but nothing would have beaten her today, that’s how it looked to me. It was some performance. I was pretty confident the whole race to be honest, but I was just a little worried if she’d done a bit too much too early in the race. Rob kept her out of trouble on the outside and she jumped great.
“I don’t know about Aintree next year. She wouldn’t be over-big which would be a concern and the thing about Aintree is you have to build your whole season around it and there’s a lot of fun to be had before then. I’ll talk to the owners. She’s been to France before and won so that style of racing does suit her, but I don’t think she’ll go this year as she’s had two hard races.
“She might go to Sandown for the bet365 Gold Cup, she does have that option so I wouldn’t have thought it would be France this year. The thing is with these mares when they get on a roll you want to keep the ball rolling. We’ll sit down after the weekend and chat sensibly.
“Sandown is an option for Kitty’s as well. He’s had some hard races and while he hasn’t won a big one this season he’s won plenty of prize-money. He’s got time on his side still, he’s still only six and he’ll win a big one some day, he’s got plenty of time.”