Grand National: Kitty's Light gives trainer's family chance to dream after daughter's leukemia fight

A racehorse trained in Ogmore is aiming to become the first Wales-trained winner of the Grand National in nearly 120 years on Saturday.

Trained by former jockey Christian Williams, Kitty's Light has already had huge success in the last year with victories in the Scottish Grand National and the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.

But at 4pm on Saturday, live on ITV Racing, Kitty's Light will attempt to be the first Wales-trained winner of Aintree's most famous race since Kirkland in 1905.

But, alongside the chance to earn legendary status, just being in the race has given the family a chance to come together to celebrate after a very tough year.

Christian and his wife Charlotte's youngest daughter Betsy, six, was diagnosed with leukaemia just over a year ago, and she has been undergoing extensive treatment ever since.

But with a date in 2025 set for her to get the all-clear, the family are looking forward to a special weekend in Liverpool cheering on one of their favourite horses in Christian's stables.

"He's a wonderful horse," Christian said, from his stable in Ogmore.

"He's in a great place. He seems to really come into form this time of year. He is looking at picture and training well."

Asked about the boost Kitty's Light has given the family, Christian said: "It's not just my family, the other children we meet in the hospital follow him as well and their families.

"So it's wonderful what he did last year, which brought them all great joy at the time when they were struggling and they get to follow him now into the Grand National.

"It's great for them to be able to turn the telly on the weekend and watch him run for them."

Trainer Christian Williams, his wife Charlotte and their daughters Tilly and Betsy at home before the race

The family are travelling up from Bridgend to Liverpool in time for Tilly and Betsy to be style judges at Ladies' Day at Aintree on Friday.

Asked by mum Charlotte what they'll be looking for, the smiling sisters said, in unison: "Big, bright and bold!"

Mum Charlotte said: "It's been such an up-and-down year and the experience we've been through with Betsy being diagnosed with leukaemia, it's been all-consuming.

"It's hard when you going through this to think of something else or to even talk about anything else. But for us, we're so fortunate to have this horse and to give us something to look forward to, something to cheer on.

"He has cheered us up on days that we didn't think we could be cheered up. It's just given us a focus and we're very grateful to have him."

Kitty's Light is trained in the shadow of the ruined Ogmore Castle in south Wales

Come race-time late on Saturday afternoon, the family will find the biggest TV they can at Aintree and cheer Kitty's Light on.

He is in fine form, but Christian is not getting ahead of himself.

Because of Betsy's ongoing treatment, this will be the first time Christian and his family have been able to have a weekend away together for a long time.

"If he can go there and finish in the first six and come home safe, I'll be absolutely delighted," the trainer said.

"We can go there as family and friends and enjoy it, so anything above that is a bonus. It's just a great privilege to be involved."

Kitty's Light himself seems extremely calm in the stables. His coat is gleaming and his athleticism is clear to see looking at him, even with a completely untrained eye.

"He has a great mind," Christian said. "He's looking well physically and seems to finish out the race as well.

"Fingers crossed, he handles the ground and jumps the fences well and then he'll be doing his best work at the end."

In the words of Tilly and Betsy, "come on Kitty!"

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...