Grand National- Party Raceday Preview

By Graham Thomas

It will be a quarter of a century this year since a Welsh jockey last won the Grand National.

But lovers of Aintree’s showpiece event unable to make it to Liverpool in April can get the best of both world’s at Chepstow on Saturday, April 15 when the course hosts Grand National Party Raceday.

Firstly, there will be the live spectacle of a full afternoon’s racing at Chepstow over the jumps, with seven races scheduled to start at 1.20pm.

But that will also leave time afterwards for racegoers to watch the excitement and drama of the Randox Grand National – beamed live from Aintree on the large screens at Chepstow – along with around 600 million other people all around the world.

The grand old race will be run for the 175th time in Liverpool at 5.15pm. First run back in 1839, the 40 runners will tackle 30 fences over two laps, covering a distance of four miles and two-and-a-half furlongs, in the most famous and challenging horse race in the world.

The thrills and spectacle of the race have created many legends – such as Red Rum, Aldaniti, Ginger McCain, Bob Champion, Jenny Pitman, Richard Dunwoody and Brian Fletcher.

It was back in 1998 that Carl Llewellyn became the last Welsh jockey to win the Grand National when he rode Earth Summit to victory by 11 lengths.

It was the second of Llewellyn’s two Grand National victories. It followed the Pembrokeshire rider’s first win on Party Politics in 1992.

Plenty of money went on Llewellyn and Party Politics that day as the race was held five days before the 1992 general election.

Welsh interest in this year’s race could also be significant, even though the successful Irish trainers are likely to have the majority of runners.

Initial entries for the race included Welsh trainer Sam Thomas’s horse, Iwilldoit, who won the Coral Welsh Grand National in 2021 and was a recent winner of the Classic Chase at Warwick.

Pembrokeshire trainer Peter Bowen has declared Mac Tottie as an early entry, while Ogmore’s Christian Williams will hope for a bright finish for Kitty’s Light.

Welsh-based jockey-trainer pairings could well include Adam Wedge on trainer Evan Williams’ horse, Secret Reprieve, who finished fifth behind Iwilldoit in the 2021 Welsh Grand National.

Llewellyn will have an interest this year, too, and assistant trainer to Costwolds-based Nigel Twiston-Davies, the Welshman will be preparing the Irish contender, Good Boy Bobby.

All that Welsh interest can be enjoyed – and backed in the betting ring – on the big screens at Chepstow as part of the Grand National Party Raceday.

There’s even a distinctive Welsh flavour to the live, on-course entertainment, too. The Stereosonics – the leading Stereophonics tribute band – will be playing live after the racing.

Tickets for the Grand National Party Raceday start from £26.

Before then, both Chepstow and Ffos Las have plenty to interest racegoers over the Easter period.

On Easter Sunday, April 9, Ffos Las Racecourse will host the Superhero Family Fun Day, that will include an Easter egg hunt and children’s entertainment and Easter activities as well as seven races.

Next day – on Easter Monday – Chepstow Racecourse hosts its own Family Fun Day, with another seven-race card, funfair rides and more Easter activities for all ages.