|Venue: Chepstow Racecourse Date: Sunday, 27 December Time: 14:50 GMT|
Evan Williams hopes Secret Reprieve can finally provide him with a Welsh Grand National winner at Chepstow on Sunday.
The Welsh trainer has a glittering CV, but his ‘home’ race – near to his Llancarfan base – has eluded him.
He has been runner-up, third and twice fourth, including last year with Prime Venture, when Christian Williams’ Potters Corner became Wales’ first winner since Norther in 1965.
“My father used to rib me for all of my life about it,” Evan Williams said.
This year at the behind-closed-doors race Williams is pinning his hopes on talented six-year-old Secret Reprieve – the ante-post favourite to be ridden by Adam Wedge – and Prime Venture.
Secret Reprieve carries the colours of the Rucker family – for whom Williams trained Cappa Bleu to finish third in 2013 as well as Aintree Grand National regular State Of Play, among many others.
Williams added: “I’d like to do it for Wales, fly the flag for Wales, but most importantly I’d like to do it for the horse and the owners – because both sets of owners are massive supporters, and I get an awful lot of enjoyment out of training winners for them.
“(Years ago) it was just this mythical event that I never thought I’d have a horse good enough to run in, or a trainer’s licence to be able to run in it.
“I suppose it’s because of all these old fellas over the years that have told me about the Welsh National that it means such a lot to have a horse with a chance of winning.
“I do beat myself up about it sometimes that we haven’t managed to nail one of those major Nationals. It would mean an awful lot to me to win any of them.
“I have an awful habit of being placed in all of these big races – it’s nice to win them now and again.”
This weekend’s event has been officially named the ‘Coral Welsh Grand National (run in memory of Kim Gingell)’ – in memory of the daughter of Colin and Pauline Tizzard, and sister of Joe Tizzard, who died in May.
Williams said: “If I got beaten a short-head by the Tizzards, would I really begrudge them? I wouldn’t.
“It’s run in Kim’s honour – sometimes there’s bigger things than a few horses running round a wet, boggy field in Monmouthshire, isn’t there?”
The Tizzard team won the Welsh National with Native River in 2016 and Elegant Escape in 2018, and have Christmas in April running as their hope for this year at Chepstow.