The Welsh Grand National has always been a big highlight over the festive period. With 3m 5 ½f to cover at Chepstow racecourse then stamina is a ‘must-have’ requirement when it comes to finding the winner, while if you like your trends you might want to know that 17 of the 19 winners have been aged 9 or younger - plus, 15 of the last 19 winners carried 11-0 or less.
This year the race will be staged on Monday 27th December 2021.
Here at TQ, we look back at the recent winners and give you all the key trends - use these to help find the best profiles of past winners.
Recent Welsh National Winners
2020 - SECRET REPRIEVE (5/2 fav)
2019 - POTTERS CORNER (8/1)
2018 – ELEGANT ESCAPE (3/1 fav)
2017 - RAZ DE MAREE (16/1)
2016 – NATIVE RIVER (11/4 fav)
2015 – MOUNTAINOUS (9/1)
2014 – EMPEROR’S CHOICE (9/1)
2013 - MOUNTAINOUS (20/1)
2012 – MONBEG DUDE (10/1)
2011 – LE BEAU BAI (10/1)
2010 – SYNCHRONISED (5/1)
2009 – DREAM ALLIANCE (20/1)
2008 – NOTRE PERE (16/1)
2007 – MIKO de BEAUCHENE(13/2)
2006 – HALCON GENELARDAIS (7/1)
2005 – L’AVENTURE (14/1)
2004 – SILVER BIRCH (10/3 fav)
2003 – BINDAREE (10/1)
2002 – MINI SENSATION (8/1)
Key Welsh National Betting Trends
19/19 – Had won between 1-5 chase races before
19/19 – Raced within the last 7 weeks
19/19 – Had won over at least 3m before (fences)
17/19 – Aged 9 or younger
17/19 – Placed in the top 4 last time out
15/19 – Carried 11-0 or less in weight
14/19 – Aged 8 or younger
13/19 – Carried 10-8 or less in weight
13/19 – Returned 10/1 or shorter in the betting
12/19 – Irish bred
12/19 – Had won just 2 or 3 times before over fences
10/19 – Had won over fences at Chepstow before
8/19 – Won last time out
7/19 – Unplaced favourites
6/19 – French bred
6/19 – Had run in the Welsh National before
6/19 – Ran at Chepstow last time out
4/19 – Winning favourites
2/19 – Trained by Colin Tizzard
2/19 – Trained by Jonjo O’Neill
2/19 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
The average winning SP in the last 19 years is 9/1
2021 Welsh Grand National Betting Guide
As we know that week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve is always a bit of a strange one, but luckily for us racing fans there is plenty to get look forward to.
After the excitement of Boxing Day and the King George, the focus quickly moves onto the Coral Welsh National, run at Chepstow racecourse and this year set to be staged on Monday 27th December.
However, this race does have a habit of being rescheduled due to the weather and that was again the case 12 months ago when we had to wait until January 9th to get it run.
Run over 3m6f at Chepstow racecourse, this is the first of the main National races of the season, with the Irish, Scottish and Aintree versions to follow.
Being a National, then, it goes without saying, horses with proven stamina have dominated this race over the years and with the ground conditions often very testing come the day, then staying power is even more important.
Twelve months ago, we saw only the fourth winning market leader since 2002 win the race as the Evan Williams-trained Secret Reprieve rewarded favourite backers off his feather weight of just 10st 1lb. That said, he was actually the third winning favourite in the last five renewals, so it’s certainly been a good race for punters in recent years.
If back for more this year in 2021, Secret Reprieve be looking to become the first ‘back-to-back’ Welsh National winner since Bonanza Boy won the prize in 1988 and 1989.
There are plenty of other key Welsh Grand National trends to look for.
Age – With horses aged between 13 and 6 years-old successful in the last four years, then you can’t really safely rule any age group out. However, with only two winners aged in double-figures since 1994 then those aged 9 or younger have by far the best records. If you want to take this age trend a bit further, then it could pay to note that 14 of the last 19 winners were aged 8 or younger (74%).
Recent Run – Look for horses that come here off the back of at least one recent run – this is backed up with ALL of the last 19 winners running in the last seven weeks, while ALL of the last 19 winners had also won between 1 and 5 times over fences in the past.
Current Form – So, we know having a recent run is key, but also having a ‘good’ last outing is also something to look for. 17 of the last 19 (89%) Welsh National winners were placed in the top four last time out.
Weight Carried – I’ve already touched on the weight carried in this staying handicap, but the key trends to note in this area are that 15 of the last 19 winners carried 11st or less - while 13 of the last 19 winners won with just 10st 8lbs or less on their backs. Backed up again last year with Secret Reprieve shouldering just 10st 1lb. Having said that, don’t take this trend as gospel – as there have been a lot more higher-rated horses targeting this prize in recent years and since 2008 we’ve seen four winners carry 11st or more - Native River, Synchronised, Elegant Escape and Notre Pere.
Track Knowledge – Having run at Chepstow before is also something to look for, but also having won over fences at the Welsh track is another decent pointer. 10 of the last 19 winners (including last year’s hero) had won a chase race at Chepstow in the past - This should hopefully put a line through several of the runners.
Favourites – Considering we normally get a field of 20+ runners for this race then it’s often a bookmaker’s dream. This is supported with only four winning favourites in the last 19 runnings – but, as mentioned, three of those came in the last five years. We’ve seen 8 of the last 19 market leaders unplaced too - so, this tells us they tend to win or bomb out. Coupled with that, it’s also not always a licence to print money for the layers as 13 of the last 19 winners (68%) returned 10/1 or shorter in the betting – suggesting that those in the top 3-5 in the betting should be taken very seriously.
Top Trainers – Being that it’s normally such an open and competitive race, there isn’t really a standout trainer trend. Okay, the Colin Tizzard camp have the best recent record with wins in 2016 and 2018, so anything they run should be respected. Paul Nicholls has two Welsh Nationals under his belt and even rode the winner - Playschool in 1987! But, as a trainer, the last of those successes came in 2005. Nigel Twiston-Davies is another popular yard that’s grabbed two wins in the race, but these also came some time ago in 1997 and 2003 with the well-known Earth Summit and Bindaree – who, of course, both also won the Aintree National during their careers. Venetia Williams, Kerry Lee, Jonjo O’Neill, Alan King, Michael Scudamore and Philip Hobbs are other stables that have won the race since 2006. While the last two runnings have been popular winners coming from the Welsh-based yards of Christian Williams and Evan Williams.
Overall, we can expect another competitive minefield to try and solve. But hopefully these key trends will help narrow down the runners. If you want to put most things in your favour, then certainly look out for horses aged 9 or younger, with 11st or less in weight, that have won at Chepstow in the past over fences and come here off the back of a top four finish - Job done!
TQ VERDICT: The Evan Williams-trained SECRET REPRIEVE will be looking to become the first back-to-back Welsh National winner since Bonanza Boy (1988/89) and even though he’s not been out since winning this race last season, he’s sure to be well tuned up. He’s gone well fresh in the past and is also only 6lbs higher than when winning this in 2021. He’s 3-from-3 at the track and with just six career runs over fences and just 7 years-old is a horse that can be expected to have more improvement in the locker. Trainer Paul Nicholls actually rode the winner of this race back in 1987 and he’s since trained winners in 2004 and 2005 - he’s got a leading chance again this year too with Highland Hunter. This 8 year-old stayed on well to win the London National at Sandown last time out on his return run and is up just 4lbs for that. He could get in here with a much lighter racing weight too (if Native River runs), so after winning with 11-12 last time will have a much lighter weight on his back this time which will help over the extreme trip. The niggle would be that he actually fell in this race 12 months ago and he seemed to have quite a hard race the last day, so it remains to be seen if that’s left its mark. The Big Dog, will be a leading player from Ireland too having won the Irish Grand National Trial at Punchestown back in February, but has returned this season with two average efforts so needs to bounce back. If running the 2016 winner of the race - Native River - adds a bit of class to the race and he returned recently with a fair run at Aintree (2nd) to be considered. We could also have the 2019 winner - POTTERS CORNER (e/w) - in the race. This 11 year-old bounce back to form last time out at Cheltenham in the Cross Country race to be a close second and being rated a massive 13lbs lower than when winning this a few seasons ago means he heads here very well-handicapped indeed. Of the rest, Becher Chase runner-up HILL SIXTEEN (e/w) can go well off a light weight for the Sandy Thomson yard that seem to have sparked some life into this horse and at the age of 8 has time on his side. Another Irish challenger to have on your radar is the Jessie Harrington-trained Discordantly, who will be better for a return run sixth at Navan, while 2018 winner of the race - Elegant Escape - course winner Ramses De Teillee, Deise Aba, who was a close second to Highland Hunter last time, and last season’s Scottish National hero - Mighty Thunder - are others to respect.