Welsh Grand National: Sam Thomas and Stan Sheppard win Iwilldoit at Chepstow, keeping the title in Wales

Welsh Grand National
Source: Skysports

Welsh Grand National: Iwilldoit guaranteed that the Welsh National championship remained in Wales for the third year in a row, thanks to a historic victory at Chepstow for local trainer Sam Thomas.

Iwilldoit returned to the same track after a hugely impressive victory in the Welsh National Trial earlier this month, and he travelled well through the 20-runner field as a number of big guns, including 2018 Gold Cup winner Native River, struggled to get home over the three-mile-and-six-furlong trip.

For the second time, jockey Stan Sheppard rode the 13/2 shot to attack Paul Nicholls‘ London National winner Highland Hunter, who had surged to the lead two fences from the finish.

Thomas’ first graded victory is his biggest career accomplishment as a trainer, and he joins Christian Williams (Potters Corner, 2019) and Evan Williams (Secret Reprieve, 2020) as Welsh winners of the race.

Highland Hunter and Truckers Lodge, both from Nicholls, finished second and third, respectively, with Achille fourth and last year’s champion Secret Reprieve fifth.

“I’m at a loss for words and feeling a little emotional,” Thomas told Sky Sports Racing. It’s the stuff of dreams.

“I didn’t think for a second that we’d go out and win today, I really didn’t.” I’m aware that we had a good chance, but it hasn’t really hit me yet.

“I was pacing around like a lunatic.” Later on, I’ll be able to appreciate it a little more.

“Having good horses and big targets keeps your eye on the ball a lot more, but I’m loving every minute of it and it gets me out of bed in the morning,” says the rider.

In a tense finale, Porticello gives team Moore a historic victory

In a spectacular rematch of the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow, Porticello was far too good for his rivals.

Gary Moore’s three-year-old, who arrived as the race’s highest-rated horse, stayed clear of traffic down the back when favourite Forever Blessed got into trouble.

After colliding with front-runner Skycutter, the Harry Fry-trained horse initially survived a major stumble, leaving Sean Bowen unbalanced but unharmed, before later pulling up his mount.

Strong-travelling Porticello was sent through the middle by rider Jamie Moore and quickly pulled away from the field to win by eight and a half lengths.

Moore has won a Grade One race over hurdles for the first time.

“Poor old Sean [Bowen] got wiped out down the back straight, but I got a nice position and had a smooth run around,” jockey Moore, son of trainer Gary, told Sky Sports Racing.

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