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David Prichard - Winning The Coral Welsh Grand National

Racing
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29 January 2023

David Prichard admits life has not changed beyond recognition just because he rode the winner at the Coral Welsh Grand National.

But one month on at least he can look back on December’s sacrifices – like a “very meagre portion” of Christmas Day dinner – and reflect that it was all worthwhile.

The Welsh jockey, who grew up in the village of Pen-y-coedcae near Pontypridd, enjoyed the biggest win of his career when he rode the 16-1 shot The Two Amigos to victory at Chepstow’s showpiece race on December 27.

Not only was it just Prichard’s fourth win of the season, but it was a much bigger personal triumph for a jockey who had questioned his future in the sport after time spent on the sidelines following a serious back injury suffered last July.

The 30-year-old conditional jockey was injured in a fall during training at Nicky Martin’s stables in Somerset, broke a bone in his back, and spent weeks laying horizontally with nothing much to do except contemplate the future.

“The worst thing about it was not so much the pain – you get used to that quite quickly – but the sheer amount of time you have to spend doing nothing,” he says.

“You are watching everyone else progress and go on with their lives and you're just sat there doing nothing.

“I've been fortunate in my time not to be too badly affected by injuries, but I know other people obviously haven't had great runs, and it does make you think about things.”

One of the treats he enjoyed the day after his Welsh Grand National victory was a proper turkey dinner with pudding and all the trimmings – a celebration that seemed a long way off last summer as well as earlier in his career.

Prichard went back to being an amateur jockey when he was 26 after becoming disillusioned with starvation diets in search of rides that were rarely successful.

After time spent working in an office – which he hated – and then building fences and laying garden patios – which he enjoyed more – he went back into professional racing just at the time the sport was re-emerging after the pandemic.

“It’s gone better than I thought. I had no real expectations, but I’ve enjoyed it and while everyone else I knew was locked down I was able to do some racing around the country.

“The Welsh Grand National win hasn’t made much difference to my life from the outside, but for me it feels like all the effort and hardship has been worthwhile.

“All the days when you go on a long trip across the country and come back empty-handed, winning a big race makes all those things a bit easier and you push through.

“I had lots of messages from old friends – even schoolfriends I hadn’t heard from for years – and it makes you realise how much reach the race actually has.”

The victory also enabled Prichard to even up the score a little in his sibling battle with younger sister Charlotte, 27, who enjoyed a hugely successful first season riding in France with 47 winners.

Last year she was the top female jump jockey in France and fifth in the full jockey championship.

“She’s second in their jump jockey title race at the moment and just doing so well out there.

“She’s also had a grade one winner in Italy as well, so she’s outdone me so far and been by far the more successful jockey.”

Both learned to ride on their parents’ smallholding before racing as amateurs after spells working at stables in France.

The victory at Chepstow was a significant one for trainer Martin, too, as a missed entry deadline a year ago meant the horse was unable to challenge after finishing fifth in 2019 and a close second a season later.

The 10-year-old saw off The Big Breakaway and The Big Dog in front of enthusiastic spectators who had mostly been denied attendance at the race since 2019 because of restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

“Looking back it was a wonderful day for us, where everything went right including the ground,” says Prichard.

“He had run well twice in the race before and he was carrying a lot less weight this time. He had a bit of an in-and-out year last season, but he’s come back and that was probably the biggest win of Nicky’s training career as well.”

As for the future, Prichard is hoping to next ride The Two Amigos at the Grand National Trial at Haydock on February 18.

“He would probably have to win that race to stand a realistic chance of getting into the Grand National and even if he did the ground isn’t necessarily going to suit him at that time of year.

“But you never know. I would certainly love to ride him there. He’s just a fantastic little horse.”

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