Track Talk By Phil Bell- 14/12/22


14 December 2022

It’s our biggest race day of the year at Chepstow on Tuesday 27th December – the Coral Welsh Grand National. It’s a special renewal because it’s 50 years since Corals started sponsoring the event. It’s one of the longest commercial partnerships in sport. 

When Corals supported the race for the first time on 17 February 1973, little did they know that they would still be supporting it half a century later. In that period the roll of honour has produced winners of six Aintree Grand Nationals and four Cheltenham Gold Cup. 

Over the years, there have been some wonderful stories created by this prestigious race including a win for Corbiere in 1982 for Jenny Pitman, the first success in the race for a female trainer. She also won took the prize with Burrough Hill Lad (1983) and Stearsby (1986). 

The trainer with the best record of victories is Martin Pipe. He scored with Bonanza Boy (in 1988 and 1989), Carvill’s Hill (1991), Run For Free (1992) and Riverside Boy (1993). 

The 2009 renewal was the pinnacle of a rags-to-riches story so incredible that it was made into two films. A group of villagers who met in the working men’s club in the Welsh Valleys formed a syndicate to buy a racehorse. They spent £300 on him and called him Dream Alliance. Their dreams came true, for he won £138,000 in prize money including the Welsh National. 

The gates for this year’s Coral Welsh Grand National open at 10am on Tuesday 27th December with the first race off at 12.30pm. All the information is on the website. 

Tim Vaughan has a Welsh and Aintree Grand National candidate on his hands by virtue of Eva’s Oskar’s win at Cheltenham on Friday in a 3m2f handicap chase worth £70,000. It was the biggest success of Alan Johns’ (photographed) career, who rode his hundredth winner earlier this month. 

After the race Vaughan said, “The Welsh National is definitely a thought, why not? If it came up soft we would definitely look at it. He would need to take another step forward to win a Welsh National but a longer trip and softer ground would put more things in our favour.” He would incur a four pound penalty and is currently priced around 20/1. Rated 140 before this, Eva’s Oskar should have a high enough mark to get into the Aintree National field. 

James Bowen rode the enigmatic Captain Morgs to win the 3m hurdle that closed the Cheltenham card. He was the less fancied of two Nicky Henderson runners, owing to a frustrating series of good placed efforts without a win in the last year. Today, stepped up in trip and with cheekpieces applied for the first time, he showed no sign of trickiness once allowed to hit the front a furlong out and ran on well to win by seven lengths. 

Meanwhile at Doncaster Lorcan Williams’ rich vein of form continued by steering Le Chiffre D’Or to an 11 length victory on his debut over fences. The field of five novices were helped by eight out of the scheduled 16 obstacles being omitted due to low sun. Le Chiffre D’Or sauntered into the lead turning into the home straight, cantered past four bypassed fences and won eased down. Williams is now 5-10 in the last fortnight. 

Bernard Llewellyn’s grandson Jordan Williams went all the way to Southwell on Friday for one ride and was rewarded for his effort with a win. He was booked by Nottinghamshire 
trainer Roy Bowring to ride Jeans Maite, who made the running to spring a 25/1 surprise in the 5f handicap. It was the mare’s fourth course win. Her stable companion Hiya Maite was favourite, but could only finish third. 

In a mile handicap on the same card David Probert came out on top in a blanket finish riding Taravara. 12 other jockeys had ridden the horse in his 18 previous races but Probert was the first to win on him. He rode two winners for Taravara’s trainer Simon Pearce the day before.

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