Christian Williams and daughter Betsy 1

Christian Williams and daughter Betsy. Pic: Nigel Kirby Photography

Kitty’s Light Can Radiate All The Way From Aintree to Chepstow

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By Graham Thomas

IF Kitty’s Light wins the Grand National on Saturday, then the biggest roars outside of Aintree will be heard at Chepstow Racecourse.

The popular Christian Williams would be the toast of Chepstow if he manages to become the first Welsh trainer in 119 years to win the big race.

The last Welsh-trained Grand National winner – the one and only – was way back in 1905 with Kirkland taking the prize under jockey Frank ‘Titch’ Mason, trained by Edward Thomas.

The last Welsh jockey to win was Carl Llewellyn on Earth Summit back in 1998.

Chepstow punters will enjoy their own Grand National Party Raceday on Saturday, with seven races over the jumps, alongside big screens around the course that will be showing all the action from Aintree.

The Grand National will be shown live at 4.00pm and if Kitty’s Light makes it a memorable day for Welsh sport, then the cheers at Chepstow might be heard all the way back up in Liverpool.

There would be some tears shed, too, as Williams has spent the past year trying to keep the show on the road from his stables at Ogmore, whilst dealing with the fall-out from the leukaemia diagnosis given to his six-year-old daughter, Betsy.

Thankfully, Betsy is making good progress in her treatment but the backdrop would make it an emotional as well as a remarkable achievement if Kitty’s Light were to prove a winner.

The horse is a proven stayer, too, and should be well-suited to Aintree, having won the Scottish Grand National at Ayr last year as well as the Bet 365 Gold Cup at Sandown.

“He is a good strong, stayer and I don’t think you could discard him even on soft ground,” said Williams.

“He seems to enjoy the springtime and he usually produces it on the big day. You don’t get any bigger than the Grand National.”

Phil Bell, regional director at Arena Racing Company, said: “There has been so much support and goodwill towards Christian and his family over the past year, it would be so special if his horse now wins the Grand National.

“It would cap a brilliant day’s racing at Chepstow on Saturday if we have Welsh racing fans enjoying live racing and then watching the challenge of Kitty’s Light for the Grand National on the big screens.”

The earlier start time to the big race in Aintree comes after a review of last year’s Grand National, which was disrupted by protestors.

The review also decided on a smaller field this year, with the number of runners reduced from 40 to 34.

The first of seven races at Chepstow will begin at 12.40pm with the last race taking place at 4.40pm after the Grand National winner is crowned.

Spectators entering the racecourse after the gates open at 10.40 am will be offered a badge showing the colours of a horse/jockey taking part in the Grand National for entry into the free sweepstake.

Each person with a badge will be in the chance to win a pair of tickets for any 2024 fixtures at Chepstow Racecourse along with a free £20 bet that can be redeemed on the DragonBet website.

Chepstow’s attractions on Saturday also include a Queen tribute band performing in the Bonanza Boy marquee after the Grand National. The music will start 15 minutes after the last race and run for an hour.

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