Welsh Grand National

Mark Dooley avatar

Written By:


The Welsh Grand National at Chepstow is one of the top-staying handicap chases of the season and often attracts top-class horses.

Famous for its challenging and testing course, the Welsh Grand National boasts a roll of honour of champions, many of whom have gone on to claim victory in prestigious races like the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Aintree Grand National. The race is a true test of stamina, skill, and sheer determination, making it a jewel in the National Hunt crown.

We spotlight famous winners who have left an indelible mark on the Welsh National legacy. From the enduring Burrough Hill Lad in 1983 to the indomitable Synchronised in 2010, and the unforgettable triumphs of Corbiere (1982), Earth Summit (1997), and Bindaree (2003), each name etched into the records.

Join us as we uncover the richness of the Welsh Grand National, a race that transcends the ordinary and defines the essence of jump racing excellence. For more insights, captivating stories, and everything you need to know about the Welsh Grand National, read on.


Race Overview – The Welsh National

Welsh Grand National

The Welsh Grand National takes place on December 27th at Chepstow racecourse, weather permitting.

The race was postponed in 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2017 and rescheduled for January.

It is a handicap chase over three and three-quarter miles with 23 fences to be jumped.

The going is usually extremely testing and it requires a horse with almost unlimited stamina to win this race.

Famous Welsh Grand National Winners & History

The Welsh Grand National is one of the most prestigious staying chases of the season and was first run in 1895.

It was originally held at Ely in Cardiff and did not take place at Chepstow until 1949 with victory going to Fighting Line.

Coral took over sponsorship in 1973 and it is currently the longest-running sponsorship deal in National Hunt racing.

The Welsh National is often the target of potential Grand National horses. Corbiere (1982), Earth Summit (1997), Bindaree (2003) and Silver Birch (2004) went on win at Aintree. The latter won here for Paul Nicholls but had moved to Gordon Elliott’s stable before his 33-1 victory at Aintree in 2007.

The race has also produced its fair share of Cheltenham Gold Cup winners. Burrough Hill Lad (1983), Cool Ground (1990), Master Oats (1994), Synchronised (2010) and Native River (2016) all claimed jump racing’s blue riband event after winning the Chepstow marathon.

Synchronised attempted the Gold Cup/Grand National double but was tragically killed in a freak accident while galloping loose.

Martin Pipe trained Bonanza Boy to win the race in consecutive seasons in 1988 and 1989. He carried only 10st 1lb for his first victory but defied 11st 11lbs the following year.

Pipe also trained Carvill’s Hill who romped to victory with top weight of 11st 12lbs in 1991. He was immediately made hot favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup but was well beaten in a controversial race won by Cool Ground.

Native River also carried the welter burden of 11st 12lbs to victory when successful in 2016. He won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2018 for Colin Tizzard and Richard Johnson. In 2020 he won the Denman Chase at Newbury for the third time in his career.

Mountainous earned his place in the Welsh National record books with victories in 2013 and 2015. He was trained by Richard Lee for his first success with daughter Kerry training him to a memorable second victory.

Welsh Grand National

Key Welsh Grand National Trials

Previous form in this race has been a useful form guide in the past, producing six of the last seventeen winners.

Coral Gold Cup, formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup, has also been a good trial.

The Welsh Grand National Trial Handicap Chase over three miles in early December is an obvious stepping-stone. Le Beau Bai won both races in 2011 and Ramses De Teillee won the trial before finishing second in the Welsh National in 2018.

Favourites have a moderate record in the Welsh Grand National with only two victories in the last twelve seasons.

Native River (2016) and Elegant Escape (2018) were both well-backed favourites trained by Colin Tizzard.

There have been plenty of shock results here. Dream Alliance won at 20-1 in 2009 and later became the subject of a book and film.

Mountainous (2013) also returned at 20-1 while Notre Pere (2008) and Raz De Maree (2017) were both 16-1 shots.

Welsh Grand National Stats

  • Horses aged six to eight have the best recent record in this race, accounting for nine of the last twelve winners.
  • The exceptions were Mountainous (2015) at the age of eleven, Raz De Maree (2017) aged thirteen and Potters Corner (2019) aged nine.
  • The most successful weights range is 10st to 10st 8lbs.
  • It takes a high-class horse to win with 11st 6lbs or higher. Synchronised (2010), Native River (2016) and Elegant Escape (2018) all achieved this and went on to prove themselves at the highest level.
  • All but one of the last twelve winners had raced within the previous two months.
  • Stamina is key here and three-quarters of them had raced over three and a half miles or further.
  • A rating of 131 or higher is normally required to win the Welsh National and nearly half of recent winners had won a Grade 1 to 3 race.

Top Trainers and Jockeys of The Welsh Grand National

Martin Pipe was the horse racing trainer to follow in this race between 1988 and 1993 with five victories.

No trainer has managed to dominate in recent years. Nigel Twiston-Davies, Paul Nicholls, Jonjo O’Neill, and Colin Tizzard have each won the race twice. Nicholls also won the race as a jockey, riding Playschool to victory over subsequent Grand National winner Rhyme n’ Reason in 1987.

David Nicholson rode three successive Welsh National winners from 1959 to 1961.

Peter Scudamore won the race four times between 1985 and 1991.

Leighton Aspell won on Supreme Glory (2001) and L’Aventure (2005).

Richard Johnson has also won the race twice; Edmond (1999) and Native River (2016).Welsh Grand National Facts

  • The Welsh Grand National is a Grade 3 National Hunt steeplechase held annually at Chepstow Racecourse in Monmouthshire, Wales.
  • The race is run over a distance of 3 miles and 5 furlongs with 22 fences to be jumped.
  • The race was first run in 1895.
  • The race is traditionally held on the 27th of December each year, but in 2020 the race was postponed to the 9th of January due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The most successful jockey in the race is Richard Johnson, who has won the race four times.
  • The most successful trainer in the race is Evan Williams, who has won the race five times.
  • The current record time for the race is 6 minutes and 12.20 seconds, set by Earth Summit in 1998. Another popular winner was Bonanza Boy.
  • Silver Birch, Bindaree and Earth Summit all went on to win the English Grand National after claiming Chepstown success. 

Popular Questions

What are important facts about Welsh Grand National?

Here are some important facts about Welsh Grand National:

  • The Welsh Grand National is run at Chepstow Racecourse, Great Britain
  • The Welsh Grand National is for horses aged 4 and older
  • The Welsh Grand National is a National Hunt Steeplechase in Great Britain
  • The Welsh Grand National distance is about 3 miles and 6½ furlongs

Summary of the Coral Welsh National Day

The Welsh Grand National is one of the highlights of the Christmas holiday period for racing fans and the pride of Welsh racing with many patriotic Welsh racegoers in attendance every year. It is also a family fun day for all.

There are often some high-class entries and the race can have an impact on ante-post betting for the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The record of past winners suggests the form is well worth following for the rest of the season from this historic Chepstow event.

There are more races in December that you might enjoy, so make sure you check them out.

Check out our Chepstow tips page if you enjoy watching races at Chepstow Racecourse.

Christmas Festival Horse Racing Information Articles