Welsh Grand National Betting Offers 2020
Everyone who has ever shown even a passing interesting in horse racing will have heard of the Grand National. In fact, even those who don’t care about horse racing in the slightest will almost certainly know what the Grand National is, given that newspapers give it double-page spreads when it comes around once a year. Few people other than those with a keen interest in the sport will be aware that the other countries in the British Isles have their own version of the steeplechase that takes place a Aintree Racecourse every year.
When it comes to Wales, their Grand National occurs at Chepstow Racecourse and it’s actually the first of the various Grand Nationals that take place in the British horse racing calendar. It is normally scheduled to run on the 27th of December, making it one of the most prestigious events of the festive period. Whilst many horses are gearing up for the Cheltenham Gold Cup trials or even the New Year’s Day meeting at the same venue, there will be plenty heading off to Chepstow to get their season off to a flying start.
The event comes just one day after the King George VI held during the Winter Festival at Kempton on Boxing Day and with the bookies in a festive mood you can expect some seriously good offers, and as you have come to expect form us we have collated the very best ones on this page to help you find added value.
Welsh Grand National Betting Offers
Chepstow 27th December 2020 Race Card
The first thing to note is that Welsh Grand National comes in the middle of a day of racing at Chepstow that builds up to it and then gives punters time to calm down in its wake! Most of the other races are interesting without being fascinating moments of racing, but it’s also joined over the course of the day by the Finale Juvenile Hurdle.
As is always the case when it comes to horse racing, the way things are supposed to happen can be chopped and changed at any moment, especially if the weather takes a turn for the worse of something else interferes. That is especially the case then the meeting takes place in December and snow and frost are a constant threat. Generally speaking, however, there is a rough format to the way the day of the Welsh Grand National usually plays out.
The Maiden Hurdle
|12:30||Maiden Hurdle||Class 4||2m 3f 100y||£3,769|
KEY: m – Miles, f – furlong(s), y – yards
This race is open to horses aged four and over. It takes place over two miles, three furlongs and one hundred yards. As the name suggests, it is a hurdle race and there are ten of the obstacles that need to be cleared during its running.
You can usually expect a field of around fifteen to twenty horses and if the Going is Heavy, as it often is at that time of year, the race will last about five minutes. In the December 2019 running of the race the prize fund was a little over £5,700.
|13:05||Handicap Chase||Class 2||2m 3f 98y||£17,204|
Following hot on the heels of the Maiden Hurdle is this Handicap Chase for horses aged four and up. It takes place over two miles, three furlongs and ninety-eight yards.
There are sixteen fences to be jumped and it normally welcomes a field of around five horses. In the December 2019 running the prize fund for the race was just over £27,000.
Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle
|13:35||Finale Juvenile Handicap||Grade 1||2m 11y||£37,018|
Taking place over two miles and eleven yards, the Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle is the first prestigious race of the day. It’s for three-year-old novice hurdlers and features eight different jumps over its duration. If the race is postponed until January, as happened in 2017 when water-logging stopped it being able to take place in December, the classification becomes a race for four-year-olds.
There are two other Grade 1 juvenile hurdling events that take place during the British National Hunt season, with the others being the Triumph Hurdle during the Chelteham Festival and the Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices’ Hurdle, which is run during the Grand National Festival at Aintree. In 2019 the race carried a purse of just under £64,000.
Because the race is only for horses of a specific age, it hasn’t been won more than once since records began in 1971. Three jockeys, one of which is Tony McCoy, have won the race twice. Even so, the record is three wins and that is held by Richard Johnson, Peter Scudamore, Mick Fitzgerald and Daryl Jacob. Two trainers have won the race four times and they are names that are well-known to horse racing lovers: Nicky Henderson and Martin Pipe. Interestingly, neither trainer has won the race in back-to-back years, only Alan King has managed that to date.
|14:10||Handicap Hurdle||Class 2||2m 7f 131y||£12,512|
The race before the Welsh Grand National could feel a little bit neglected as people look towards the big race, but the handicap hurdle that precedes it is exciting enough to keep punters interested. It takes place over two miles, seven furlongs and one hundred and thirty-one yards and is for horses aged four and up with a rating of up to 145 from the British Horseracing Authority.
There are eleven hurdles to be jumped and when the 2019 race went off it offered a prize fund of just shy of £20,000.
The Grand National
|14:50||Welsh Grand National||Grade 3||3m 5f 110y||£85,425|
You can find out all about the history of the Welsh Grand National further down this page. It is a race four horses aged four and over and is a handicap offering. Run left-handed, it lasts for three miles and five and a half furlongs, with twenty-three fences to be negotiated during its running. You can normally expect about twenty horses to take part in it, with the race lasting for just under ten minutes if the Going is Heavy.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s the race almost belonged to Martin Pipe, such was the dominance of the Somerset-based trainer. He won it five times between 1988 and 1993, only missing out in 1990 to Reg Akehurst’s Cool Ground. Just three horses have won it more than once, with Limonali the first to do so in 1959 and then again in 1961. Bonanza Boy was part of Martin Pipe’s winning streak, picking up consecutive victories in 1988 and 1999. The most recent to manage the feat was Mountainous, who won the race in 2013 and then repeated the trick two years later.
If you’re wondering what, if anything, this race can tell you about what’s still to come in the British horse racing calendar then you might want to look towards the Cheltenham Gold Cup. In 2010 Synchronised took home the Welsh Grand National prize money before winning the prestigious race in Gloucestershire in 2012. The same think happened to Native River, who won in 2016 and then picked up the Gold Cup in 2018.
As you might imagine, the weather has played a significant part in the race’s history. It was abandoned because of frost in 1978, 1995 and 1996, with snow causing an abandonment in 1969. Water-logging has also been a problem, putting paid to the possibility of racing in 1975 and then again two years later. In more recent years the race is usually moved to January if inclement weather causes problems. The standout year was 1994 when the race in its entirety took place at Newbury.
The winner of the Welsh National can expect to take home in excess of £85,000, with a total purse of around £147,500, making it one of the best paid Grade 3 races of the National Hunt season.
Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase
|15:25||Novices’ Limited Handicap||Class 3||2m 7f 131y||£7,018|
Usually welcoming a much smaller field of less than ten, this race is, as you’d guess, a limited handicap chase for novices. It is open to four-year-olds and older, running for a distance of two miles, seven furlongs and one hundred and thirty-one yards.
There are eighteen fences to be jumped and that, combined with the increased length, means that it normally lasts for a minute longer than the Maiden Hurdle if the Going is Heavy. It’s a richer race, however, with the December 2019 purse being just shy of £11,000.
Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race
|15:55||Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race||Class 4||2m 11y||£3,509|
Most National Hunt meetings nowadays have a flat race on offer for punters, with this one being no exception. It’s for four to six-year-olds and lasts for two miles and eleven yards.
Obviously there are no jumps to be negotiated during the class 4 Bumper, which tends to last for around four minutes of the Going is Heavy. When the final race of the day went off in December 2019, the price fund was around £5,300.
History of The Welsh Grand National
First things first, let’s have a look at the history of Wales’s version of the Grand National. It originally called Cardiff’s Ely Racecourse its home and occurred for the first time back in 1895. It wasn’t until the racecourse closed its doors in 1939 that it was acknowledge that it would need to be moved somewhere else.
No racing of note took place during the Second World War, but when hostilities ended and normal life resumed the course at Caerleon on the outskirts of Newport was chosen as a suitable alternate venue. It was only there for one year, however, before shifting to Chepstow ahead of the event’s running in 1949.
In its early years the event took place on Easter Tuesday, but in 1969 it was decided that it was more likely to attract better horses if it was moved to February. There was an acknowledgement from race organisers that the move to an early time in the year did increase the chance of bad weather interfering with the event, but that it was a chance worth taking in order to give the event more prestige amongst the horse racing community.
The decision paid off, with the bookmaker Coral choosing to sponsor the event in 1973. Interestingly, the bookie continues to be the Welsh Grand National’s chief sponsor to this day, making it the longest running sponsorship deal in the entirety of jump racing.
Still the organisers weren’t entirely happy with the scenario, however, and when the race had to be cancelled due to snow in 1979 it was decided to move it to late December. It has remained there ever since, usually taking place on the day after Boxing Day. Occasionally it does move to a different time for reasons such as weather or organisational issues, with the 2017 running of the event occurring on the 6th of January 2018.
All being well, however, it comes in between Christmas and New Year and many racing lovers use it to give them a clue about what might happen later in the season in the English Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
History and About Chepstow Racecourse
Knowing the history of the race is useful and can help punters when they’re thinking of which bets to place, but knowing about the racecourse that the event is taking place on can also be a big help. It is one of three professional racecourse in Wales, with the other two being Bangor-on-Dee near Wrexham and Ffos Las in the town of the same name. It is unquestionably the biggest racing venue in South Wales and is operated by Arena Racing Company.
There had been racing at St Arvans between 1892 and 1914, which is close to where the current Chepstow course can be found. Even so, it wasn’t until 1925 that a group of businessmen formed a company with the aim of buying the neo-classical country house Piercefield House and laying out a racecourse there.
That group included the Lord-Lieutenant of Monmouthshire and 1st Viscount Tredegar, Courtenay Morgan, and Lord Queenborough. The group struggled to raise the capital initially, but ploughed ahead with the opening of the racecourse and the first race there took place in the sixth of August 1926.
The spiralling costs of laying out the course put it in financial difficulty immediately and it nearly had to close down, requiring a large bank loan that the directors guaranteed in order to stay open. More loans were needed over the decade that followed, though it did manage to survive and eventually prosper.
The first jump racing event occurred in March of the year following its opening, beginning something of a tradition of flat racing occurring during the summer months and jump racing being the choice of the winter time.
It was the flat racing at the venue that caught on the quickest, with the Welsh equivalents of the Derby, the St. Leger and the Oaks taking place on the course with decent prize money attached. It wasn’t until 1933 that the racecourse truly began to earn a name for itself, capturing the imagination of the public when Gordon Richards won eleven races back-to-back over two days. He was only beaten in the final race of the meeting, with even that being a close-run thing.
In the Second World War, the racecourse took on a new life when it was re-designated as RAF Chepstow and became an outpost of the Royal Air Force. As the racecourse itself only had grass runways in its centre, a new area for bombers was created on the other side of the main road that ran alongside it. The traffic would need to be stopped in order to allow the planes to move onto the course and start taxiing for take-off!
It was after the end of the Second World War that the racecourse truly began to develop, with jump racing becoming the dominant type of racing hosted there when the Welsh Grand National moved to the course in the wake of Caerleon closing down. When the Severn Bridge opened and the M4 motorway was completed, the course became significantly more accessible to English horse racing fans and its popularity began to sore.
The actual course itself is an oval circuit that is around two miles in length. The finishing straight is around five furlongs in length and the complete course offers horses eleven fences that need to be negotiated. It’s a left-handed course that undulates, presenting a challenge whether it’s being used for jump racing or the flat alternative.
Over the duration of the year, Chepstow Racecourse offers punters thirty-two fixtures on average. Whilst the Grand National is undoubtably the best of them, the Totepool Jumps Season Opener takes place in mid-October and features a Grade 3 handicap hurdle called the Tote Silver Trophy and a Grade Two Novices’ Hurdle called the Totepool Persian War.
When it is not being used for horse racing, the venue can host things as diverse as a wedding or a music concert. The likes of Tom Jones, Madness, Simply Red, UB40 and Peter Andre have performed at Chepstow Racecourse in the past.