The Welsh Grand National at Chepstow remains one of the pillars of the Festive racing programme and this year’s renewal is set for Monday 27th December.
Potters Corner for Christian Williams and Secret Reprieve for Evan Williams have ensured the two most recent renewals went the way of Welsh trainers.
The likes of Harry Fry’s Ask Me Early and Brian Ellison’s Sam’s Adventure are amongst those being touted for the Chepstow marathon and our tipster is taking an early look at the Festive feature.
|Date||December 27, 2021|
|Start Time (GMT)||14:50|
|Distance||3 miles 6.5 furlongs|
|Type||Grade 3 Handicap Steeplechase|
|Where to Watch||Live stream at MansionBet|
|Horses’ Age||Four and up|
Welsh Grand National: Recent Winners
|2020||Secret Reprieve||Adam Wedge||Evan Williams|
|2019||Potters Corner||Jack Tudor||Christian Williams|
|2018||Elegant Escape||Tom O’Brien||Colin Tizzard|
|2017||Raz De Maree||James Bowen||Gavin Cromwell|
|2016||Native River||Richard Johnson||Colin Tizzard|
Secret Reprieve Team Hoping for Rain
Evan Williams recently told the Racing Post that winning with Secret Reprieve last year ‘meant as much to me as anything I’ve achieved’ in racing.
The seven-year-old gave Williams a famous first success in his homeland’s biggest race, which took place in early January, after being forced to abandon in December. Secret Reprieve is the ante-post favourite at 6/1 to become the second horse this century – after Mountainous (2013 & 2015) to bag a second Welsh National win.
In doing he’d become the first back-to-back winner since Martin Pipe sent out Bonanza Boy to score in 1988 and ’89.
Secret Reprieve is yet to run this season and his trainer admits the needs to get him started soon, while he also acknowledges his charge needs plenty cut in the ground. Positively, Williams says Secret Reprieve summered ‘exceptionally well’ after his progressive term last time around.
Early Move for Fry’s Charge
Harry Fry’s Ask Me Early is challenging for favouritism at 13/2 following his reappearance win at Exeter over hurdles in early November.
The trainer said winning there was a bonus, while confirming his belief the seven-year-old now looks set to be ‘a very exciting second-season chaser’ in the coming months.
Ask Me Early holds an entry in this weekend’s Welsh Grand National Trial at Chepstow, a race Secret Reprieve won last season before returning to win the real thing a month later. Fry believes Ask Me Early has the tools for a mission such as this one, and he’s also confident the Grand National at Aintree is a viable long-term goal.
Native River, winner of this race in 2016, has been given an entry by trainer Colin Tizzard and is 22/1 to win, though the Dorset handler admits he’d prefer to head for Aintree in early December – ground permitting – than carry top-weight in a Welsh National.
Nicholls has Chepstow Options
Paul Nicholls won successive Welsh Nationals with Silver Birch and L’Aventure in 2004 and 2005 and Britain’s champion trainer has some interesting contenders on the entry list this time around, with 25/1 Truckers Lodge joining Highland Hunter, priced at 11/1 ante-post.
Truckers Lodge was seventh behind Secret Reprieve last year and occupied the same finishing position in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter in March. He’s only had eight starts over fences and could do better this season.
Meanwhile, Highland Hunter was closer in fifth at Uttoxeter in March and his earlier 3m2f heavy-ground win at Carlisle certainly offers hope the Welsh National would be his kind of test. He’s had just four runs over fences and could the main hope for Britain’s champion trainer on 27th December.
The Somerset trainer also has the likes of veteran Yala Enki at 20/1 in the betting following his Cheltenham November Meeting victory.
*All odds correct at time of writing.