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Track Talk With Phil Bell - Welsh Grand National Prep


06 January 2021

The re-scheduled £150,000 Coral Welsh Grand National takes place at Chepstow this Saturday. The original date on Sunday 27th December was abandoned due to waterlogging but the threat this week is frost. 

Temperatures are forecast to dip below freezing from Wednesday onwards so frost covers have been deployed across the course. The going is currently heavy and there is no rain forecast. 

We are keeping our fingers firmly crossed.

There are now eight races on the card starting at 11.45am. Sky Sports Racing will be showing all the races live with the Coral Welsh Grand National and the Coral Finale Hurdle both live on ITV Racing.

Secret Reprieve, trained in the Vale of Glamorgan by Evan Williams, remains the 7-2 big race favourite with the sponsors Coral. He won the trial for the race in early December and bids to give Wales back to back successes in the race following Potters Corner’s victory in 2019. 

This year’s race is being run in memory of Kim Gingell, daughter of trainer Colin Tizzard, who passed away aged 43 after a short illness last year. The Tizzard’s have won the Coral Welsh Grand National twice with Native River and Elegant Escape.

As I mentioned in a recent column, the British Horseracing Authority has confirmed all race meetings across the UK until the end of April. Those scheduled from May to December remain provisional until any further impact of Covid-19 restrictions is known. As with so many issues related to the pandemic, matters can change weekly sometimes daily. 

Pembrokeshire jockey Sean Bowen had a great weekend. On Saturday, he rode the exciting hurdler Metier to victory in the Grade One Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown for trainer Harry Fry.

The five year old, purchased for £150,000 after a career on the flat in Ireland, stormed up the Sandown hill to win by 12 lengths from Shakem Up’Arry, a winner at Ffos Las for owner Harry Redknapp in November. The gelding has now won three times over hurdles since his move to Fry’s Dorset yard. 

Bookmakers were impressed. Having started Saturday as big as 50-1 for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Metier is now a best-priced 8-1.  He’s a very exciting horse for Sean to look forward to riding this jump season.

Sean has now moved on to 48 winners for the season. His brother James rode his 17th winner of the campaign last week when Mac Tottie won at Market Rasen for the Peter Bowen yard.

On Sunday, it was great to see the Oliver Sherwood trained Seaston Spirit win the Sky Sports Racing Sussex National at Plumpton. The eight year old gelding was an easy winner over hurdles at Ffos Las in November. It’s always good to see Ffos Las winners progress up the ranks.

Discussions with the Welsh Government about pilot race days with spectators are likely to continue later this month but with Covid cases per 100,000 still significantly high, it’s unlikely we will have any confirmed dates for a few weeks. Updates will be posted on our social media accounts and website.

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