Without a doubt this is the biggest raceday in Wales and it returns to Chepstow Racecourse just after Christmas. In fact, the £150,000 Coral Welsh Grand National is scheduled to take place the day after Boxing Day.
The CORAL WELSH GRAND NATIONAL is run over a distance of about 3 miles and 5½ furlongs with twenty-two fences to be jumped. And if you wonder what that course is like for a jockey, have a look through the eyes of Sam Thomas…..
Its got some history behind it as well. The race was first run in 1895, and originally took place at Ely Racecourse in Cardiff where it stayed until the course closed in 1939.It After World War II it was transferred to Caerleon in 1948, and it was then moved to its present venue in Chepstow in 1949. Dick Francis, the famous jockey turned author, rode the first Chepstow winner of the race, Fighting Line. David Nicholson, later a successful racehorse trainer, rode three successive Welsh National winners in 1959, 1960 and 1961.
Peter Scudamore and John Francombe have enjoyed great success at the National, particularly during the 80’s.
The race was actually an Easter thing, running on the Tuesday. It was moved to February in 1969 with the aim of attracting better horses, albeit with the increased risk of bad weather forcing its cancellation. It has been sponsored by bookmakers Coral from 1973 and is now the longest running sponsorship in jump racing.
We feel sure this year the standard of entries will be higher than ever.
It’s far to early to say which horses will be running, but in previous years, Colin Tizzard’s 2016 winner NATIVE RIVER, the subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, 2017 winner RAZ DE MAREE, at 13 the oldest horse to win the Coral Welsh Grand National; and 2018’s victor ELEGANT ESCAPE have been amongst the entries.
Heading up the Welsh trainer contenders previously were Rebecca Curtis’ JOE FARRELL and POTTERS CORNER, trained by Christian Williams, winners of the Scottish and Midlands Grand Nationals respectively.
Paul Nicholls had four entries in the last event, including YALA ENKI, a five-length third in a previous Coral Welsh Grand National, when carrying three pounds more than the winner; GIVE ME A COPPER, part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson.
The standard of entertainment is always top notch on the day, once again it’s a little early to say who will be there. We do know however, there’ll be plenty of entertainment throughout the day for the entire family as well as the thrilling racing.
Previously, international opera superstars Sir Bryn Terfel and Rebecca Evans, sang the National Anthem as the runners circle at the start for the big race. That gives you an idea of just how prestigious this event and day is.
This is a look back at the big day in 2018…..
The CORAL WELSH GRAND NATIONAL is at Chepstow Racecourse on Monday 27th December. Gates usually open at 10am with the first of 7 races getting underway at 12 noon. For more details and tickets, go here. NATIONAL The prices range from £30 to £159, if you fancy enjoying the day from The View Restaurant.