Last Friday saw a Welsh-owned, trained and ridden winner of the Welsh Grand National, a race that’s been sponsored by Coral since 1973. The going was heavy, soft in places.
Early mist got worse before the first race, a 2m4f maiden hurdle, but most of it could be seen with the help of the TV cameras. Cap Du Mathan made a great attempt to make much of the running but couldn’t hold off Harry Senior, a heavily backed 4/5 favourite. He had good form and Robbie Power gave him a confident ride, content to wait until the approach to the final flight before moving ahead. The Colin Tizzard five-year-old, c carrying the Native River colours, won quite comfortably by five lengths and should go on to better things. Global Fame pinched second on the run-in.
Alan Jones has landed a few gambles in the 2m4f chase at this meeting in the past, and did so again today with the eleven-year-old Tiquer (16/1). He is lightly raced in the last few seasons – Jones said he’s been difficult to train – but he jumped well for Paddy Brennan, taking the lead three out and galloping on stoutly to beat the front-running Springtown Lad by four lengths.
The Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle over 2m came next. As expected, the 6/5 favourite Allmankind charged off in front and stayed there. Turning into the home straight he was six lengths up, and although Cerberus closed a little, he kept on galloping and extended his lead going to the final flight. He came in nine lengths ahead, with Harry Skelton on board riding for his brother Dan.
There was a Welsh 1-2 in the 3m hurdle. Tim Vaughan’s Eva’s Oskar (17/2) took the lead after the penultimate flight and ran on dourly to gain his fourth win of the year. The Evan Williams veteran Clyne, who’d disputed the lead until dropping back on the far bend, rallied gamely to press Oskar and limit the victory margin to two and a half lengths. Alan Johns rode the winner, who started the race as a grey but returned a mud-spattered brown.
Visibility, though not ideal, was better by now. Before the Welsh Grand National got under way the military band played the national anthem, the singing led by Bryn Terfel and Rebecca Evans. They set off from a different start to recent years, jumping the last fence before the winning post prior to embarking on two complete circuits, a journey of 3m 6f 130yds.
Yala Enki and The Two Amigos shared the lead for most of the race. The Christian Williams-trained Potters Corner (8/1) loomed alongside at the fifth last and was sent ahead by 17-year-old Jack Tudor three out. From that point the outcome was in no doubt, as Potters jumped well and stayed on strongly. The novice Truckers Lodge ran on to finish a length and three quarters behind, with Yala Enki third. Fourth was Prime Venture, trained by Evan Williams. 54 years have elapsed since the last Welsh-trained winner of the big race.
The penultimate event was a 3m novices handicap chase. Clondaw Anchor proved a tough nut to crack despite hitting the third last hard and jumping the final two fences slowly. He stayed in front until halfway along the run-in, where the recent course and distance victor Dominateur (11/4 fav) worried him out of it. Richie McLernon, who has only had one success here over the last five seasons, rode the two and a half length winner for Oliver Sherwood.
It was very gloomy by the time of the bumper, except for backers of Getaround (9/2). This point-to-point winner led a closely bunched field at a middling pace, pressed on three furlongs out and went on to win unchallenged, by 12 lengths. Malinello, who’d run wide at the stable bend, finished in second place. It was a first success at Chepstow for conditional Bryan Carver and the first under Rules for Devon trainer Ellie Pickard.