We hoped to round off 2020 with an actual Grand National and it was the turn of the Welsh to host one of the biggest races on the calendar. However, mother nature did not play ball, and following a deluge of rain courtesy of Storm Bella, the Chepstow race had to be rescheduled from December 27th 2020 to Saturday, January 9th 2021.
Thankfully, despite a course inspection, the ground was deemed good enough to race the second time around. 18 runners took the starting tape with Secret Reprieve, from trainer Evan Willams, the bookies favourite at odds of 5/2.
Run over 3m6½f on Soft going and with 23 fences to be jumped, the Welsh Grand National is a real test of stamina. It may not be as lucrative as the Aintree Grand National, with the winner taking just over £85K home, but the prestige is just as good.
How The Welsh National Played Out
The race got off to a great start with all 18 runners clearing the first seven fences. At this point in the proceedings, the field was becoming more strung out with Cloudy Glen holding up the rear, having never really gotten into it.
The Two Amigos and Yala Enki led the way, four lengths up on third place Truckers Lodge. The first circuit complete, all runners were still in contention with Secret Reprieve happy to stay in the middle of the field.
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) January 9, 2021
Into the second circuit and the first faller, The Hollow Ginge went at fence 13. By fence 16, Secret Reprieve was making some headway and was moving into sixth position. With the race still being dominated by The Two Amigos and Yala Enki, all got over fence 18 and headed into the home straight with five fences to go.
Secret Reprieve and jockey Adam Wedge made their move jumping into second place over fence 19. Over fence 21 and Secret Reprieve took up the running and the lead and stayed there over the last with Yala Enki pushing hard to close the gap in the final 100 yards.
But with a three-length lead, Adam Wedge and Secret Reprieve made it to the finishing post first, giving Evan Williams his first win in the race.
The Finishing Order
Another great race at Chepstow and with 13 of the 18 runners finishing the race, it was a drama free affair.
This is how the 2020 Welsh Grand National panned out:
- 1st – Secret Reprieve – jockey Adam Wedge – trainer Evan Williams
- 2nd – The Two Amigos – jockey Matt Griffiths – trainer Nicky Martin
- 3rd – Yala Enki – jockey Bryony Frost – trainer Paul Nicholls
- 4th – Captain Drake – jockey Bryan Carver – trainer Harry Fry
- 5th – Prime Venture – jockey Tom O’Brien – trainer Evan Williams
- 6th – Bobo Mac – jockey AP Heskin – trainer Tom Symonds
- 7th – Truckers Lodge – jockey Lorcan Williams – trainer Paul Nicholls
- 8th – Big River – jockey Derek Fox – trainer Lucinda Russell
- 9th – Lord Du Mesnil – jockey Paul O’Brien – triner Richard Hobson
- 10th – Vieux Lion Rouge – jockey Conor O’Farrell – trainer David Pipe
- 11th – Cloudy Glen – jockey Charlie Deutch – trainer Venetia Williams
- 12th – Ramses De Teillee – jockey Tom Scudamore – trainer David Pipe
- 13th – Dominateur – jockey Gavin Sheehan – trainer Oliver Sherwood
The remaining runners – Joe Farrell, Calipso Collonges, Christmas In April, and Springfield Fox pulled up.
Welsh National Reaction
As you can well imagine, trainer Evan Williams was delighted that his charge, Secret Reprieve won the race in such fine style.
Speaking to BBC Sport Wales, he said “It’s a relief more than anything. I’m very proud of the horse and Adam,”
Secret reprieve all fine this morning thanks for all the kind messages 🏆 pic.twitter.com/UPSxynTO1s
— Evan Williams (@EWilliamsRacing) January 10, 2021
“It means the world. I’ve always said I’ve wanted to win the Welsh Grand National.”
Williams said the next target for Secret Reprieve could well be the Grand National at Aintree, where his other stable star, Potters Corner, could also be heading.
“If I’m honest he’s still a novice and the race which really comes to mind is the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, but that’s only because he is a novice and the reality is the Grand National would be higher on my list.
“It would be silly not to, wouldn’t it? I would have to talk to the owners and see how the horse comes out of the race.”
Secret Reprieve And The Aintree Grand National
Fresh off the back of his Welsh Grand National success, it’s no surprise that he went straight into the betting markets at odds of 20/1 antepost. That makes him one of five runners sitting as joint second favourites behind Tiger Roll.
But as trainer Williams stated above, while it would be great to send him there, nothing has been decided yet.
That is the same for all the current antepost runners. The official entries list for the 2021 Grand National is due out at the end of this month so until then we have no idea who will potentially line-up on April 10th 2021.