The 2023 running of the Coral Welsh Grand National produced a very impressive winner in the shape of the six-year-old Nassalam, trained in West Sussex by Gary Moore and ridden by Caoilin Quinn. The gelding had easily won the Coral Welsh Grand National Trial in early December and he turned the big race itself into a procession winning by 34 lengths. He’s an upwardly mobile horse who could take in the Cheltenham Gold Cup or Aintree Grand National in the future although he does need soft ground which isn’t assured in these races.
Jockey Ben Jones had a New Year’s Day to remember when he rode his first ever winner at Cheltenham. The horse in question was Shakem Up’Arry trained by Ben Pauling and owned by Harry Redknapp. Jones has been picking up more and more rides for Pauling and he is one of many Welsh riders riding on the crest of a wave.
These include James Bowen who has now ridden six winners from his last eleven mounts. He had a double at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and a treble at Newbury last Saturday.
The highlight of his Newbury successes was the J P McManus owned Jeriko Du Reponet who he rode with great confidence to achieve a cosy victory against a smart quartet of previous winners and promising types. The ease of his victory makes him the primary British-trained contender for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Bowen will be picking up more rides for the Nicky Henderson yard in the coming weeks with stable jockey Nico de Boinville out injured.
James’ brother Sean is on the sidelines for a while as a result of a fall on Boxing Day at Aintree. He said: ‘I have twisted my knee and it is just a bit sore. I don’t think it is anything major so I am hoping it will be just a week or two and I will be back then.’ Having reached the 121 winner mark, his previous lead of about 35 over Harry Cobden has diminished to 29.
David Probert returned to the saddle at Lingfield on Sunday, riding two winners. This was after he’d taken most of December off, his first long break since Covid interrupted racing in the spring of 2020. He showed no signs of rustiness on his second mount of the day Rockstar Icon who ran out a convincing winner.
In the last race Probert had a plum draw on Bang On The Bell, who was second in his previous two outings. He gained a deserved first place this time. That brought Probert to the 110 winner mark for 2023.
Lorcan Williams is yet another Welsh jockey in great form. He had a double at Exeter on New Year’s Day to follow-up two winners for trainer Paul Nicholls at Taunton on Saturday