A Preview Of The Coral Welsh Grand National
December 24, 2016
First run in 1895 at Ely Racecourse in Cardiff, the Coral Welsh Grand National is a race steeped in history and is the undoubted highlight of the Welsh racing calendar. Its present venue Chepstow Racecourse has been its home for the past 67 years with this prestigious jump fixture taking place over a distance of about 3 miles and 5½ furlongs.
The event attracts a high-calibre of entrants – all with ambitions of mastering the left-handed rolling course in which there are twenty-two fences to be negotiated. As well as providing a wonderful spectacle, results at the Monmouthshire course provide an enlightening guide to future races such as the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
This year’s total prize investment is £150,000 which means it is the richest ever Coral Welsh Grand National. Only one horse has managed to win three Welsh Grand National’s – Lacatoi, with victories in 1935, 1937 and 1939. However, this record could be matched by last year’s winner Mountainous (who also triumphed in 2013), an eleven year old gelding trained on the Herefordshire/Shropshire border.
Last-time winners have fared notably well in this competition and a number of high-class operators have managed to land this coveted title since its inception. The illustrious honours list includes Aintree Grand National winners (Bindaree in 2003 and Silver Birch in 2004) and Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, (Cool Ground in 1990 and Synchronised in 2010), as well as the gigantic display of Carvill’s Hill in 1991 – one of the greatest jumping performances in history.
The squashy and spongy ground means that there is no room for passengers – every winning horse needs an inordinate amount of stamina if they want to be successful at Chepstow. Commencing the day after Boxing Day, here is our guide to the horses we expect to pack a punch in a field that is compelling both numerically and in terms of quality.
The market leader would become only the third six-year-old winner in the race’s history were he to emerge victorious. However, 11 of the last 15 winners have carried 11 stone or less with Native River set to shoulder a top weight of 11st 12lb. Trained by Colin Tizzard, he arrives in good form having beaten Carole’s Destrier by a comfortable half-length in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury last month.
Trained in Wales by Evan Williams, Firebird Flyer was second at Haydock Park on his seasonal return last month and earlier this year came home ahead of Milansbar to win the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter.
Trainer Kerry Lee guided Mountainous to victory in 2015 to continue her family’s superb record in the event. This year she takes the reins of Bishops Road who will be another interesting contender and is owned by Aintree Racecourse director – Alan Halsall
A potential Christmas cracker. Claimed victory in a two-runner affair at Carlisle on his seasonal return last month despite conceding 8lb to his sole rival, who also had race-fitness on his side. Carrying less than 11 stone as well as being an out and out stayer, Onenightinvienna may well be perfectly equipped to cope with the testing conditions of this race. Trainer Philip Hobbs previously won this race in 2009 with Dream Alliance and looks a strong bet at generous odds of 16/1.