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The five greatest winners of the Welsh Grand National

A view of the runners during the historic Welsh Grand National.

We take a look through the storied history of the Welsh Grand National and list the five greatest horses ever to claim victory in Chepstow’s most famous races.

Kempton and Leopardstown may draw the bulk of the focus during the week after Christmas, but the most historic race being run anywhere during the Festival period is the Welsh Grand National. Since 1895, some of the best staying chasers in the business have been travelling to Chepstow to take part in this handicap, with many of the winners going on to achieve great success during the big spring Festival later in the season.

We’ve cast our eye over the honours board at Chepstow to come up with our top five greatest winners of the Welsh Grand National. Enjoy!

5. Mountainous

While many of the Welsh National winners have boosted the race’s reputation with wins elsewhere, Mountainous earned his spot on this list by becoming the first horse since Bonanza Boy in the late-80s to regain the Welsh National crown.

In December 2013, Richard Lee’s 20/1 shot made the most of a featherweight by powering to victory after a fantastic jump at the last. Two years in the wilderness followed, but it was here at Chepstow where Mountainous rediscovered his winning touch at the ripe old age of 11, outstaying Firebird Flyer to join the select list of horses to have lifted the Welsh National trophy twice.

Jamie Moore and Mountainous hack through the mud at Chepstow to win their second Welsh National in 2016.

4. Corbiere

The crowds at Chepstow were brought to their feet as Corbiere triumphed in the 1982 running of the Grand National, handing trainer Jenny Pitman her first major victory. Coincidently, the two horses who followed Corbiere past the post were also trained by female handlers, with Mercy Rimmell’s Pilot Officer pushing Corbiere all the way to the line in a slobber-knocker of a contest.

Pitman went on to create her own slice of history at Aintree later in the season. Under the burden of 11-04, Corbiere powered to victory from the front, landing a fabled Grand National double and ensuring Pitman’s place in history, as the first female trainer to ever train the Aintree Grand National champion.

Jenny Pitman poses with Corbiere after their victory in the Aintree Grand National.

3. Master Oats

During the early 90s, Master Oats enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the chasing ranks in Britain. In November 1993, Kim Bailey’s charge was running at Huntingdon rated 115. Fast forward two years and Master Oats was playing a starring role at the Cheltenham Festival, romping to a 16 length victory in the 1995 Gold Cup.

Earlier in that historic season, Master Oats triumphed in the Welsh Grand National – which had been rerouted to Newbury – destroying future winner, Earth Summit by 20 lengths. Master Oats failed to win again after his Gold Cup success, but his transformation over those two years is one of the most remarkable stories in recent National Hunt racing history.

2. Synchronised

Jonjo O’Neill’s chaser announced his arrival at the head of the chasing ranks here at Chepstow in January 2011. The former Midlands National winner was a 5/1 shot under AP McCoy and was made to work hard in seeing off Giles Cross to claim his first Graded victory over fences.

The following season, Synchronised blossomed. A sparkling eight-length victory in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown was the perfect prep-run for a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Synchronised didn’t disappoint, seeing off The Giant Bolster and defending champion, Long Run to hand O’Neill another Gold Cup success.

Connections came crashing, cruelly, back down to earth the following month, as Synchronised suffered a fatal fall in the Grand National. At the age of nine, there were still several good years left in Synchronised and we’ll never know what else this fantastic winner of the Welsh Grand National would have gone on to accomplish.

1. Burrough Hill Lad

Undoubtedly the greatest ever winner of the Welsh Grand National and the second entrant trained by the legendary trainer Jenny Pitman, Burrough Hill Lad claimed Chepstow glory in the winter of 1983, as he justified favouritism with a dominant display.

Burrough Hill Lad then travelled to Cheltenham as the horse to beat in the Gold Cup. Regular jockey, John Francombe elected to ride market rival, Brown Chamberlain, which proved to be a terrible decidision, as Phil Tuck guided Burrough Hill Lad to a tremendous success in Cheltenham’s showpiece event.

Many horses found winning difficult after claiming Gold Cup glory, but not Burrough Hill Lad. Pitman’s stable star won the Charlie Hall Chase on his reappearance the following season. He then scored in the Hennessy Gold Cup carrying 12-00 on his back, before rounding off a monumental year with a sparkling victory in the 1984 King George at Kempton. 

Burrough Hill Lad must be considered the finest winner of Welsh Grand National!

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The five greatest winners of the Welsh Grand National

We take a look through the storied history of the Welsh Grand National and list the five greatest horses ever to claim victory in Chepstow’s most famous races.

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