A look ahead to the Coral Welsh Grand National
The Coral Welsh Grand National is one of the racing highlights of the festive period as a full field slog it out for glory at Chepstow.
It is the feature of ITV Racing’s Christmas coverage on December 27 with the race, which is also broadcast on Sky Sports Racing, set to go off at 2.50pm.
What is the Coral Welsh Grand National?
Chepstow’s biggest race day of the year is also Wales’ most valuable contest with up to £150,000 in prize money up for grabs and plenty of prestige on offer to the winner.
The race is run over an extended 3m6f and 23 fences and often is a gruelling race, with the deep mid-winter ground turning this into a battle with only the strongest of stayers prevailing.
Who has won the Coral Welsh Grand National in the past?
There is a rich role of honour in the Coral Welsh Grand National with many of the winners going on to win even more big races in their career, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Synchronised (2010) and Native River (2016) are just two who have triumphed in Wales before going on to win the Cheltenham Festival blue-riband in 2012 and 2018 respectively while Burrough Hill Lad did the Coral Welsh Grand National/Gold Cup double in 1983/84 for trainer Jenny Pitman.
Others use the Coral Welsh Grand National to test their staying suitability for the Grand National at Aintree.
Corbiere and Earth Summit used the Chepstow race as a stepping stone towards success on Merseyside in the same season while Silver Birch won the Coral Welsh Grand National for Paul Nicholls in 2004 before storming to Aintree glory when in the care of Gordon Elliott in 2007.
The anomaly is the 2003 Coral Welsh Grand National winner Bindaree, who scored at Chepstow after taking home the Grand National trophy in 2002.
Which trainers do well in the Coral Welsh National?
Welsh trainers have won the race the last two seasons with Secret Reprieve obliging favourite backers for Evan Williams in 2020 and Potters Corner winning for Christian Williams in 2019.
Potters Corner was also ridden by a Welsh jockey for Welsh owners, the first time that has happened since 1928.
Potters Corner also went on to win the Virtual Grand National in 2020 when Covid-19 curtailed Aintree’s spring Festival.
Colin Tizzard, Nicholls and Jonjo O’Neill have all won the race twice this century, with Tizzard the one to taste most recent success, saddling the winner in 2016 and 2018.
Venetia Williams is also worth keeping an eye on considering her proficiency in training staying chasers, especially those who appreciate real cut in the ground.
She won the race in 2014 with Emperor’s Choice but has also had seven horses place in the race from her last 17 entrants.
Martin Pipe won the race five times in the late 1980s and early 1990s but although saddling many fancied runners, his son David is yet to get on the scoreboard from 20 Coral Welsh Grand National runners since taking over the licence at Pond House.
What type of horse wins the Coral Welsh Grand National?
The one thing every Coral Welsh Grand National winner needs to be is a dour stayer and the south Wales track takes no prisoners.
Guts and a willing attitude will come to the fore once the horses swing the home turn and face up to the final five fences up the Chepstow home straight.
It can often pay to side with a horse with a touch of class, one that will have zero issue shouldering a hefty weight in testing conditions.
Native River is a prime example of this, with the future Gold Cup winner carrying a whopping 11st 12lb to victory in 2016 while stablemate Elegant Escape overcame a mark of 151 and 11st 8lb in 2018.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) December 27, 2016
The other way to go is to spot the unexposed horse set to take their chance off a featherweight at the bottom of the handicap, with the last two winners fitting this category.
This also applies to Monbeg Dude, who carried just 10st 1lb to win the 2012 Coral Welsh Grand National and went on to run in the Gold Cup later that season.
He returned to Chepstow to finish second in the race off an 18lb higher mark in 2014 before placing in the Grand National at Aintree.
Who could win this year’s Coral Welsh Grand National?
Ask Me Early (5/1) heads the market with the sponsors and outlined his credentials with a third course victory here earlier this month.
That run was over hurdles with handler Harry Fry keen to protect his mark with this big race the long-term target.
Defending champion Secret Reprieve (6/1) is rightly challenging for favouritism following his convincing victory in the race last year.
The seven-year-old was well fancied for the Grand National in the spring but failed to make the final line-up and he could still be well ahead of the handicapper off only a 6lb higher rating this time around.
Little separated Highland Hunter (8/1) and Deise Aba (12/1) when they fought out the finish at Sandown recently and both look the type to thrive when the mud is flying in south Wales while Hill Sixteen (16/1) will be attempting to build on his recent second over the Grand National fences at Aintree.
The Big Dog (10/1) is the shortest priced Irish raider and will be a popular Coral Welsh Grand National pick while O’Neill has an exceptional record in this race and will be sending out his Midlands Grand National winner Time To Get Up (10/1) into battle.
Thank you for all the messages, it’s been a great week.
Many congratulations once again to JP and Noreen and well done to all the team pic.twitter.com/kxnQ4omBfe
— Jonjo O’Neill (@JonjoONeill) March 20, 2021
Mighty Thunder (16/1) was second in that Uttoxeter marathon before going on to take the Scottish equivalent at Ayr and has to be respected, with 2019 victor Potters Corner (16/1) also set to take part and he looked right back to his best when agonisingly denied at Cheltenham lately.
If that effort hasn’t taken too much out of him, then he could prove extremely well treated and become the first two-time winner of the race since Bonanza Boy in 1988 and 1989.
All odds and market correct at date of publication
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