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Welsh Grand National: All you need to know

Amongst the Christmas racing highlights in Britain is the Welsh Grand National, the centrepiece of the season at Chepstow and a traditionally gruelling contest.

It's one of the festive racing highlights and has been won by a future Cheltenham Gold Cup winner as recently as 2016.

When is the Welsh Grand National?

The Welsh Grand National is scheduled to take place the day after Boxing Day each year, 27th December. With a prize fund of £150,000 it is the biggest race of the year in Wales.

Where is the Welsh Grand National?

The race has been held in this traditional Christmas slot at Chepstow since 1948. Situated just over the River Severn estuary in south-east Wales, Chepstow is an historic racecourse that stages action both on the Flat and over jumps all year round.

Chepstow is a left-handed, undulating, oval course, nearly two-miles round with eleven fences to a circuit, a five-furlong home straight, and a run-in of 250 yards. Conditions for the Welsh National can be notoriously testing.

Where can I watch the Welsh Grand National?

All the festive racing from Britain and Ireland, including the Welsh Grand National, is available to watch via the bet365 live Sports Streaming Service. The Welsh Grand National will be showcased on ITV Racing while Sky Sports Racing will broadcast every race from Chepstow's big Christmas meeting.

What is the history of the Welsh Grand National?

Along with counterparts at Aintree, Ayr and Fairyhouse, the Chepstow contest forms one quarter of the major National prizes on offer across Britain and Ireland.

The Welsh Grand National is apart from the rest, being run in December, while the others all take place in the spring, and that helps to make it a unique event.

Does the Welsh Grand National get cancelled?

From 1969 through until 1996 the Welsh Grand National had to be abandoned on six occasions owing to a variety of adverse weather – snow, frost and waterlogging – while the race was run at Newbury in 1994.

Authorities now have the contingency plan of re-fixing for a date in January if they are forced to abandon at Christmas. The 2010, 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2020 renewals were all run in January of the following year.

Who are the most successful Welsh Grand National jockeys?

David Nicholson, after whom the Cheltenham Festival Mares' Hurdle is named, won three successive Welsh Grand Nationals in 1959, 1960 and 1961 on board Limonali ('59 & '61) and Clover Bud.

His three-in-a-row has yet to be matched though Peter Scudamore is the winning-most rider in the history of the race scoring on Run And Skip in 1985, Bonanza Boy (1988 and 1989) and Carver's Hill in 1991.

Other two-time winning riders include Dick Francis, Terry Biddlecombe, John Francome, Richard Johnson and Leighton Aspell.

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Which horses have won the Welsh Grand National more than once?

Limonali's two wins in three years for Nicholson was surpassed by Bonanza Boy in 1988-‘89 for Scudamore and legendary trainer David Pipe as he became the first and so far only horse to win successive Welsh Grand Nationals.

Only one other horse since has managed a repeat victory, with Mountainous scoring in 2013 and 2015 for Richard Lee and then Kerry Lee.

Which famous horses have won the Welsh Grand National recently?

Synchronised won the Welsh National in 2010 for trainer Jonjo O'Neill and legendary rider AP McCoy, before going on to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2012.

The Colin Tizzard-trained Native River repeated that achievement, winning at Chepstow in 2016 and then in the Cotswolds in 2018 after a famous Gold Cup duel with Might Bite.

In 2017 the Gavin Cromwell-trained Raz De Maree won the race, famously carrying jockey James Bowen to glory at the tender age of 16 – the youngest rider ever to win the race.

What is the record of Welsh-trained horses in the Welsh Grand National?

Until recently it was quite poor, with 1973 Deblin's Green for trainer George Yardley held up as the most recent home-trained winner all the way through until 2019 when Potters Corner obliged for Christian Williams.

The home team duly had their fire re-ignited and victories for Evan Williams' Secret Reprieve in 2020 and the Sam Thomas-trained Iwilldoit in 2021 have helped Welsh trainers complete a hat-trick of wins.

Who are the favourites for the Welsh Grand National this year?

Following an impressive win at Sandown Park at the start of December, the Venetia Williams-trained mare Quick Wave is 6/1 for Welsh Grand National glory.

Successful on the same day at Aintree in the Becher Chase, the Dan Skelton-trained Ashtown Lad is 10/1 for Chepstow on 27th December.

Iwilldoit is a 14/1 chance to become the first back-to-back winner in 33 years, while Secret Reprieve is 14/1 and impressive Troytown Chase winner The Big Dog is 16/1 to win for Ireland.

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