Jockey Tony McCoy. (Photo by Robert Wilson/Contour by Getty Images)

A Welsh Grand National Look Back In Time – Former Winners Synchronised And Silver Birch

Brian Lee wrote ‘The Welsh Grand National from Deerstalker to Emperor’s Choice (History Press) and in his foreword National Hunt racing legend Peter Scudamore wrote, “it is an engrossing study that documents the history of the great race and charts the development of National Hunt racing.” The big event in the Welsh sporting calendar arrives next week.

The 2018 Coral Welsh Grand National will be at Chepstow Racecourse on Thursday, December 27 (gates open 10am).

There are seven jump races and the day will be packed with Welsh themed entertainment for the entire family including singing from Chepstow Musical Youth Theatre, Bridgend Male Voice Choir, a performance from jazz band Hipcats in Chepstow’s Wye Valley marquee, roaming Welsh lady stilt walkers and more.

There will be a Tom Jones tribute act after the last race in Chepstow’s Bonanza Boy marquee until 4.50pm.

International opera stars Wynne Evans and Rebecca Evans will sing the Welsh National Anthem ahead of the big race.

Dai Sport writer Brian Lee looks back at a couple of memorable Welsh Grand National winners:

2010 – Synchronised

The famed AP McCoy had won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award after his success in the Aintree Grand National on Don’t Push It.

He then added another Grand National to his CV in Wales when his mount Synchronised collared the long time leader Giles Cross between the last two obstacles to score by two and three quarter lengths.

McCoy said: “I sat him a bit closer to the pace to get him into rhythm and they didn’t go much of a gallop. I’m glad I rode him handy as he warms to his jumping.

“This was the ideal race for him with those conditions and fences.”

However, sadly, the following year Synchronised, who was attempting to be the first horse in 78 years to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National in the same season. 

He had won the Gold Cup 29 days before, but fractured his off-hind tibia and fibula when falling in the National  and was put down.

2014 – Silver Birch

The 2004 Coral Welsh Grand National was run on heavy ground. 

Paul Nicholls’ Silver Birch, a seven-year-old bay gelding by Clearly Bust-All Gone, went off the 10/3 favourite in a field of 17 runners. They included former winners Supreme Glory (2001) and Bindaree (2003). 

Lucinda Russell’s eight-year-old Strong Resolve set a strong pace despite having been ridden some two miles to Piercefield Park after his horsebox had been delayed by heavy traffic near the Severn Bridge. 

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Four fences from the finish Silver Birch was one of half-a-dozen or so horses still in with a chance and it was at this fence that the top weighted Take A Stand came down when seemingly going as well as any of the others in contention.

Silver Birch then jumped to the front three fences from home and went on to score by two lengths from the pace-making Strong Resolve with Chives one-and-three-quarters of a length back in third spot. 

Little more than five lengths covered the first five home, but Silver Birch’s greatest moment was still to come as he went on to win the 2007 John Smith Grand National at Aintree. 

In doing so he denied the Welsh trainer Peter Bowen ‘s McKelvey, beaten just three quarters of a length, in his bid to become the first Welsh trained winner since Kirkland in 1905. 

Paul Nicholls, it should be noted, had ridden Playschool to victory at Chepstow in the 1987 renewal.

Call Chepstow’s hospitality team on 01291 622260.

A shuttle bus will be running from both Chepstow (£1 each way) and Newport (£5 return) train stations. The timetable can be viewed here.

The travel management plan for this meeting can be read here.

Advice for owners and trainers can be found here.

Silver Birch, ridden by Ruby Walsh leads Just in Debt, ridden by Tony Dobbin, over the last fence on the Grand National Course to win The totesport Becher Handicap Steeple Chase (Photo by Nigel French – EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)

Chepstow office opening hours over the Christmas period are:

22nd December: 10am – 3pm

23rd December: 10am – 2pm

Christmas Eve: 9am – 3pm

Christmas Day: Closed

Boxing Day: 10am – 5pm

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