Nassalam makes light work of Chepstow to land Welsh National and seal special day for Gary Moore

Nassalam capped an afternoon to remember for trainer Gary Moore when showing stamina in abundance to run out an ultra-impressive winner of the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.

The Lower Beeding handler had already enjoyed Grade Two success at the South Wales track and also seen his Clarence House Chase winner Editeur Du Gite bounce back to his best to defend his Desert Orchid title at Kempton before Nassalam headed out as the 9-2 joint-favourite.

Some 4lb well-in under a penalty for winning the Welsh National Trial at the course earlier this month, the six-year-old was tracking the pace set by the front-running Amateur in the early stages of what was a typically testing renewal of the marathon event.

Passing their point of departure for a second lap of Chepstow, it was only the John Flint-trained Amateur and Paul Nicholls’ Complete Unknown, scraping the paint on the inside, that were recognisable from their silks as the gruelling conditions began to take a toll.

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Owned by John and Yvonne Stone, Nassalam joined Amateur midway down the back and led those left standing into the home straight for the final five fences, with Sam Thomas’ 2021 hero Iwilldoit and Complete Unknown in hot pursuit.

A blunder from Complete Unknown soon knocked the Ditcheat challenger out of contention and although Iwilldoit gamely gave chase, Nassalam was not for catching as he extended clear up the Chepstow straight.

He was 15 lengths to the good jumping two out and extended that advantage to 34 lengths as big-race jockey Caoilin Quinn added another facile triumph to Salver’s victory in the Grade two Finale Juvenile Hurdle only 40 minutes earlier.

Jonjo O’Neill’s Iron Bridge eventually claimed the silver medal, with Iwilldoit in third, but the afternoon belonged to the mud-loving Nassalam who was introduced at 25-1 by both Paddy Power and Betfair for the Randox Grand National at Aintree.

Caoilin Quinn celebrates winning the Coral Welsh Grand National on Nassalam
Caoilin Quinn celebrates winning the Coral Welsh Grand National on Nassalam (David Davies/PA)

“Last year he never had his ground and I probably ran him over the wrong trip, probably on the short side. But I think blinkers and soft ground have brought out the improvement in him,” said Moore.

“I was watching it in the parade ring at Kempton and I was just pleased when he got over the last. Watching I thought he was handy enough and he had to go six furlongs further than he did last time, but obviously Caoilin knows more than me.

“He’s a very good rider and his 3lb is very useful. He’s a good lad. The owner has been very loyal to him and let him ride the horse and he’s repaid them for it.

“He’s still only a young horse and I would like to think there will be a bit more improvement to come.

“I need to speak to the owner and he’s not going to be easy to place now, so we will need to have a chat to decide where we go next. But in the back of my mind I would like to train him for a National. If it is like when Red Marauder won it then that would be perfect.”

Of his memorable 73-1 treble, which came in the space of an hour, he went on: “They are few and far between so you have to make the most of it.

“We’ll go home now and I’ll probably go back to the yard, make sure everything is all right and give them a hand. Then I’ll go to the gym tonight, just go for a swim, and then get a bit of dinner.”

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Winning rider Quinn added to Sky Sports Racing: “I winged the first and got in the ideal position just behind the leaders and I couldn’t believe how well he travelled.

Caoilin Quinn with the Coral Welsh Grand National trophy
Caoilin Quinn with the Coral Welsh Grand National trophy (David Davies/PA)

“We jumped the middle one down the back and we jumped into the lead and I was kind of thinking I don’t want to be there so soon, but he was going so well – I wish I’d had a look now, I won by quite a bit. What a great performance.

“I think the ground is a big factor and I said to Gina (groom) when it was squishing on the ground, he loves this. He just seems to travel so much better on it, he properly loves the mud.

“I’m delighted, over the moon, from winning the Grade Two the last race to this, I can’t believe it and I’m very emotional. It is all thanks to my boss and Mr and Mrs Stone for trusting me. I’ve ridden plenty of big winners for them and for them to keep me on, I’m very grateful.”

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