Coral Welsh National
|Handicap Chase, Chepstow 15:10
3m 6f 130y, Class 1
1 Iwilldoit 13/2
2 Highland Hunter 11/1
3 Truckers Lodge 28/1
4 Achille 16/1
5 Secret Reprieve 6/1F
20 ran Distances: 9l, 7l, hd
Time: 8m 29.21s (slow by 32.21s)
Iwilldoit puts in a super performance to land the Coral Welsh Grand National under @StanSheppard9 for @SammyTRacing at @Chepstow_Racing pic.twitter.com/PLO0IpA6d3 https://t.co/1QIvSOQPgl via @RacingBetter— RacingBetter (@RacingBetter) December 27, 2021
Former jockey Sam Thomas gained the biggest win of his burgeoning training career when Iwilldoit landed a gamble under Stan Sheppard in a gruelling, stamina-sapping test.
Backed into 13-2 from 12-1 on the morning of the race, the eight-year-old went to the front eight fences from home and ground down the opposition in the extended three-and-three-quarter-mile Grade Three marathon in which only five of the 20 starters finished.
Owned by Diamond Racing, Iwilldoit opened his campaign with victory in the trial here over an extended two miles and seven furlongs earlier this month.
The race itself – being run behind closed doors for the second successive year due to covid restrictions – suffered two false starts with Harry Cobden keen to get a good position on Highland Hunter and they finally got away from a standing start at the third attempt.
Iwilldoit was keen early, but had plenty of cover and was allowed his head a long way from home, taking over from the pace-setting Ramses De Teillee.
His jumping proved foot-perfect throughout and only two horses really mattered three from home, with Iwilldoit jumping with aplomb and outstaying Highland Hunter and Cobden to record a nine-length success.
Thomas said: “I can’t put it into words. I can’t believe how emotional I am.
“I didn’t dare think for a minute that we were going to win. I know we had a chance, but it is incredible.
“I’m a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience, if I’m honest.
“It is tremendous to keep it in Wales. I am a proud Welshman and it hasn’t really sunk in. It is what dreams are made of, really.
“It is very bizarre being stood here in an empty stand with no crowd. It just doesn’t feel right, really.
“I have enjoyed every minute of that race, but my family should be here, the rest of the owners should be here, and it is a very sad day for racing, really. It just doesn’t feel right – 40 minutes away in Bristol there is a full stadium of people watching rugby. It is crazy.”
He added: “Big targets keep your eye on the ball and it is what gets you out of bed every day.
“I have a fantastic team at home and this is a team effort.
“When he hit the front down the back and got into his rhythm, I thought all he had to do was stay on his feet really and he’d keep running is race.
“Stan gave him a lovely ride – it is a lot of pressure for a young jockey, but I’m delighted for him.
“He loved those conditions and bottom weight in those sort of races obviously helps in soft ground. Hopefully, I will be able to enjoy it a little more later.”
Coral Welsh Grand National (A Handicap Chase) (Grade 3)
£150,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus, 3m 6f 130y, Class 1
Going: Soft, Heavy in places
1 Iwilldoit 8 9-8 4ex Sam Thomas Stan Sheppard 13/2
2 9 Highland Hunter 8 10-9 4ex Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 11/1
3 7 Truckers Lodge 9 10-10 Paul Nicholls Lorcan Williams 28/1
4 hd Achille 11 10-1 Venetia Williams High Nugent (5) 16/1
5 28 Secret Reprieve 7 10-0 Evan Williams Adam Wedge 6/1F
FELL Discordantly 7 10-0 Mrs John Harrington Gavin Sheehan 18/1
PU Native River 11 11-12 Colin Tizzard Brendan Powell
PU Elegant Escape 9 11-2 Colin Tizzard Jonjo O'Neill Jr 28/1
PU Mighty Thunder 8 10-10 Lucinda Russell Derek Fox 18/1
PU Ramses De Teillee 9 10-6 David Pipe Tom Scudamore 20/1
PU Mac Tottie 8 10-2 Peter Bowen Sean Bowen 40/1
PU Deise Aba 8 10-0 Philip Hobbs Tom O'Brien 8/1
PU Hold That Taught 6 9-9 Venetia Williams Charlie Deutsch 17/2
PU Colorado Doc 10 9-8 David Brace Connor Brace 50/1
PU Eva's Oskar 7 9-6 Tim Vaughan Alan Johns 28/1
PU Captain Drake 8 9-6 Harry Fry Lorcan Murtagh (3) 28/1
PU Hill Sixteen 8 9-6 Sandy Thomson Craig Nichol 20/1
PU Potters Corner 11 9-6 Christian Williams Jack Tudor (3) 14/1
PU Kimberlite Candy 9 10-10 Tom Lacey Richie Mclernon 33/1
PU The Big Dog 8 10-7 Peter Fahey Jonathan Burke 11/1