2015 Coral Welsh Grand National stats guide
David Metcalf | January 7, 2016
The rescheduled Coral Welsh Grand National takes centre stage at Chepstow on Saturday, January 9th, and the stats suggest the Jonjo O’Neill trained Upswing is a major contender to capture the valuable prize.
Here’s our horse racing expert’s guide to the leading trends for the stamina sapping test at the Welsh venue.
The last 10 winners have been aged between six and eight, and older horses tend to struggle.
Riverside Boy (1993) is the only double-aged winner of the race since Rag Trade scored in 1976, so it clearly pays to stick with the younger brigade in what is a gruelling staying contest usually run in very testing conditions.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained six-year-old Cogry is the youngest in this year’s line-up. Upswing, Chase the Spud and Nail ‘M represent the seven-year-old contingent.
Class and recent form
Recent course form has been a big positive, with 14 of the last 24 winners having run at the track earlier in the same season.
Last year’s winner Emperor’s Choice, and 2013 hero Mountainous, are back for more and bidding to become the first since Bonanza Boy in 1988/89 to win the race for a second time.
Five of the last 11 winners had also been successful on their most recent appearance, so in-form horses are well worth considering.
The contest used to be a strong race for favourites, with the market leader scoring six times between 1988 and 1994.
In recent times things have changed, however, and only one of the last 18 favourites has managed to justify strong market support. That honour falls to the Gordon Elliott trained Silver Birch in 2004.
Having said that, it’s worth noting that Halcon Genelardais (2006) and Synchronised (2010) were long-time ante-post favourites only to be replaced as market leader on the morning of the race before going on to glory.
O’Neill is renowned for doing well with his staying chasers and has won the race twice in the last 13 years, courtesy of Mini Sensation (2002) and Synchronised (2010). Both horses carried the famous gold and green hooped colours of owner JP McManus, and they will be sported this year by the strongly fancied Upswing.
The Pipe team won the race five times in six seasons between 1988 and 1993, but have had just two placed runners from their last 36 contenders.
Richard Lee has won two of the last three runnings courtesy of Le Beau Bai (2011) and Mountainous (2013), but has since retired and handed over the reins to daughter Kerry. She is now responsible for Mountainous, who is considered by many to be a leading contender.
Ditcheat handler Paul Nicholls has also done well, saddling two winners in the last 11 renewals and a 1-2-3 in 2005. The British champion trainer also saddled the runner-up and third home in 2013 and Benvolio to finish a short-head second in last year’s contest.
One big negative is that no northern raider has scored since the Monica Dickinson trained Righthand Man romped to victory in 1984, despite several being well-backed to do so.
Nine of the last 12 winners have all carried 10st 9lb or less, and prior to last year when Emperor’s Choice won off 10st 8lb the previous three winners had all carried no more than 10st 1lb.
However, class horses have performed consistently well, with Halcon Generlardais winning in 2005 and subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised landing the spoils in 2010, so backers of the Paul Nicholls trained Black Thunder (11st 8lb) can take heart.
For more New Year horse racing, check out our dedicated section.