The Coral Welsh Grand National, one of the major horse racing events of the year, takes place on Friday, 27 December 2019 at Chepstow, a left handed racecourse. Total prize money is currently £150,000, with £85,425 going to the winner.
Unlike the Grand National, there is a maximum field of 20 runners which makes assessing the form much more manageable. In this article, I hope to help readers gain an idea of what is required to win this testing race and reduce the number of runners with a realistic chance of a win or place.
As its name suggests the Welsh Grand National is run over an extended distance of 3m 5 1/2f with 22 fences to be jumped and rates a severe stamina test. As a grade 3 National Hunt steeplechase it is a handicap open to horses aged 4 years or older and takes place every year on 27th December.
The race has been sponsored by the bookmakers Coral since 1973, and is now the longest ever continuously sponsored race. The first ever winner of the race at its current venue was the jockey turned author Dick Francis, who won on Fighting Line in 1949.
This is a marathon race, often run on testing ground, demanding stamina in abundance and favours horses carrying a low weight.
In the last 20 years only one horse has achieved the feat of winning the race twice and that was the gallant Mountainous. Trained by Richard Lee to win the race in 2013 and then again in 2015 by his daughter Kerry, this bay gelding relished the mud, winning both times in heavy going, albeit with the relatively light weight of 10st and 10st 6lbs.
It is contested by high quality horses and apart from the prestige of actually winning the race, it is a good guide to the chances of those horses contesting future races such as the Aintree Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Horses that won both the Welsh Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup include
Burrough Hill Lad in 1983, Synchronised and Native River.
Horses that won both the Welsh Grand National and the Aintree Grand National include Corbiere, Bindaree and Silver Birch.
At this time of year in Wales the ground is often testing, so a horse carrying a light weight has an advantage.
Those carrying top weight are likely to struggle and only 2 horses carrying more than 11st 6lbs have won since 1994. The 2 exceptions being Native River, who carried 11st 12lbs to victory (the greatest weight ever) under jockey Richard Johnson in 2016 and Elegant Escape who shouldered 11st 8lbs under jockey Tom O’Brien in 2018. Both races took place when the ground was just soft and less testing than when the going is heavy.
Of the last 20 winners 15 have carried 10st 9lbs or less and on the occassions the going has been described as heavy (on average every other year) 4 winners carried just 10st, 3 carried 10st 1lb and the rest between 10st 4lbs and 10st 13lbs.
For the last 10 renewals 8 winners have been aged between 6yo – 8yo and of the last 20 winners 18 have been aged between 6 and 9. The 2 exceptions were Mountainous (11yo) and Raz De Maree (13).
Without exception the last 20 winners had achieved a top 6 finish LTO and 18 had achieved a top 4 finish. All of the winners had raced from 16-60 days prior to the race as well as having had 1 or 2 races in the current season.
They also need to show they have the stamina for this marathon trip as 16 of the last 20 winners had previously raced at this distance with many of them having tried 4 miles.
The Welsh Grand National Horse Racing Trends Summary
Aged 6yo – 8yo
A top 4 finish LTO
Had 1 or 2 runs in the current season
Previously raced over 3m 5 1/2f or further
Carry a light weight when the going is heavy
The Welsh Grand National Horse Racing Betting Opportunities
The race takes place at the time of year when there is a lot of action in the racing world so there is plenty of competition between bookmakers. This means good news for punters who are wooed with some great special deals, especially in the place market.
Expect such incentives as enhanced odds, through the card and extra places on offer. So it is worth the canny punter spending some time researching the best opportunities.
Winners odds in the past 6 years
2018 – 3/1f
2017 – 16/1
2016 – 11/4f
2015 – 9/1
2014 – 9/1
2013 – 20/1
To sum up then, this is a popular and exciting race with a respected history and attracting top quality horses and trainers. From a punters perspective it is easier to assess than other Grand Nationals and provides plenty of good betting opportunities when armed with useful trends and information.
If you struggle to find selections, then a great starting point is to use trends, like the above, to create a shortlist of the strongest contenders in the race. This significantly reduces the amount of horses you need to focus on, and enables you to look at just a few horses in more detail.
I’d love to hear who you think is going to be the strongest horse in the Welsh Grand National. Please leave me a comment below to let me know.