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Williams retains faith in Potters Corner

Potters Corner is recovering from his Grand National exertions – and may well be back at Aintree for the Becher Chase next season.

Christian Williams reports his popular stayer slightly “stiff and sore” after eventually pulling up behind Minella Times at Aintree on Saturday, but otherwise none the worse for his experience.

The Glamorgan trainer has big plans for a clutch of other stable stars in what remains of this season – with Kitty’s Light and Cap Du Nord both on course for this month’s bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Sandown.

Potters Corner, however, has earned a rest. Asked how his Welsh and Midlands National winner is faring after his latest marathon attempt, Williams said: “He’s not too bad. He’s a little bit stiff and sore, but he’s okay.

“We’ll probably leave him now for the season and aim him for the cross-country race (at Cheltenham) and then maybe go back for the Becher Chase.

“The Welsh National-type horses, perhaps that type of race (Grand National) doesn’t suit them (these days).

“Bottomless ground at Chepstow, then Aintree on quicker ground, it’s a different test.”

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He went on: “We’ll put him away now. He hasn’t got masses of mileage – I think he’s only run four times in the last two years.

“We’ve picked out races for him a little bit, so we hope there’s a little bit left in him.

“But he’s been such a great horse for the yard and the owners – we’ll run him in the cross-country, then the Becher, and take a view from there what route we go down, whether to carry on running or we should retire him.”

Kitty’s Light is six years Potters Corner’s junior – and a remarkable example of how horses can defy expectations.

Williams bought the Flat-bred cheaply, has seen him win four of six chases over ever increasing distances in his first season over fences – and is ready to set him his most exacting test yet in Sandown’s big handicap.

He said: “We’re looking forward to Kitty – we’ve had the Sandown race in the back of our mind since he finished third in the Badger Beer (at Wincanton) last year.

“That’s been his main aim for a long time, so it’s all systems go.

“We popped the tongue tie on him at Kelso, and found a little bit of improvement with that as well.

“He’ll be relatively fresh going into the race, and we hope the trip will suit him.

“We think the track, with the nice uphill finish, will suit him.”

Kitty’s Light and Jack Tudor (right) make ground en route to victory at Warwick
Kitty’s Light and Jack Tudor (right) make ground en route to victory at Warwick (David Davies/PA)

Kitty’s Light will be joined by Cap Du Nord, winner of a Newbury handicap and third in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster this season.

“Cap Du Nord will go for Sandown as well,” added Williams.

“He’s got a good profile, just had a blip last time when he pulled up over hurdles – like a lot of those chasers too.

“With his profile before that, we’ll be looking forward to running him.

“He’ll be no back number. We hope he’ll turn into one of those good staying chasers as well.”

Potters Corner eyes real Grand National gold

Glamorgan trainer Christian Williams sees victory in the Randox Grand National as the only thing that could top Potters Corner’s Welsh National win.

The 11-year-old won the Chepstow staying contest in 2019 and then the Midlands Grand National in the same season, before taking aim at Aintree in 2020.

The Covid-19 outbreak put paid to that idea. But the gelding, who is partly owned by Welsh rugby star Jonathan Davies along with a new syndicate RacehorseClub, did enjoy a different kind of Grand National success when taking the virtual version instead.

A computer-simulated contest which uses an algorithm to determine the finishing order of the field, the virtual Grand National was more widely watched than ever after the cancellation of the real race – and the programmers behind the event calculated that Potters Corner would have passed the post ahead of Walk In The Mill, Any Second Now and Tiger Roll.

Potters Corner has run three times since that animated victory, his best result being a third-placed performance in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham’s November meeting.

A minor over-reach injury prevented him from returning to Prestbury Park in March to run over the same course at the Cheltenham Festival, but Williams now reports the gelding to be fully recovered and on track for his trip to the real Aintree this year.

Williams and jockey Jack Tudor after their success in the Welsh Grand National
Williams and jockey Jack Tudor after their success in the Welsh Grand National (David Davies/PA)

“He seems well – we’ve galloped him, and I’m happy,” he said.

“We’ll gallop him somewhere else and we’ll try to jump a National fence as well before.”

No ill-effects of his over-reach issue linger, and Williams is reassured rather than concerned by the bay’s unremarkable work on the gallops at home.

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“He’s all good, he seems well at the moment,” he said.

“It’s obviously day by day with any horse, but we’re happy with him.

Potters Corner on the way to the start in the Midlands Grand National
Potters Corner on the way to the start in the Midlands Grand National (Clint Hughes/PA)

“We’ve worked him, and he’s worked the way he normally does. He never works very well, but that’s normal, so we’re pleased.”

The rest of Williams’ Ogmore Farm string are also in rude health – something he is drawing confidence from for the journey to Liverpool.

“We’ve got a bit of yard momentum now – everything we run seems to run well,” he said.

“I think that’s very important. Everything seems healthy, and we’re flying at the moment.

“(The) trainer’s confident, the jockey’s confident, everything’s going well at the moment – and we think he’s capable of running a big race.

“We’re looking forward to it now – our confidence is growing.”

Potters Corner's part-owner Jonathan Davies congratulates Jack Tudor after his victory in the Welsh Grand National
Potters Corner’s part-owner Jonathan Davies congratulates Jack Tudor after his victory in the Welsh Grand National (David Davies/PA)

Potters Corner will be steered around Aintree by young jockey Jack Tudor, his usual pilot who was in the saddle when they were victorious in the Welsh Grand National.

Tudor is yet to take on the famous course at Liverpool – and although Williams finished second in the race aboard Royal Auclair in 2005, he does not intend to provide his rider with detailed directions.

“I don’t usually get involved with riding instructions,” he said.

“You’re using someone because you know they’re capable, so I’ll leave that to him.”

Potters Corner is a horse who has very much put Williams’ training operation on the map, with Uttoxeter’s Midlands Grand National a Listed contest and the Welsh Grand National a valuable Grade Three prize.

Williams hopes those victories and a good run at Aintree will aid the rise of the yard – and whatever the outcome, he will always remain grateful to his stable star for providing such success at a relatively early stage in his training career.

“He’s brilliant – it’s hard to explain really,” he said.

“Certain horses do that to you, don’t they?

“Hopefully in years to come we’ll be a bigger yard, and it comes down to horses like him. We’ll be in a stronger position, because the horse did that for us.”

The Welsh incarnation of the Grand National was a highlight for Williams, as it is for many a Welsh jockey, owner and trainer, but Aintree’s marathon showpiece ranks even higher on his list of career aspirations.

“It has to be at the top,” he said.

“The Welsh National was a great day, and only one or two races could ever top that. The Grand National is one of those races.”

New owners targeting high-profile start with National duo

A new racing club is seeking a dream start with two runners in the Randox Grand National on Saturday week.

RacehorseClub offers micro-shares to its members – with the aim of attracting a new audience to the industry – and as two of their three purchases are due to run at Aintree, they could exceed all expectations.

The Christian Williams-trained Potters Corner, winner of the Welsh National in 2019, and Balko Des Flos, a former winner of the Ryanair Chase, will be sporting the club’s distinctive multi-coloured silks.

RacehorseClub is the brainchild of Max Pimlott, who works for the International Racing Bureau and said: “The whole idea is to get more people involved in horseracing and give them a toe in the water of what racehorse ownership is all about.

Christian Williams (left) stands with Potters Corner and Ed Chamberlin, an ambassador of the club
Christian Williams (left) stands with Potters Corner and Ed Chamberlin, an ambassador of the club (Nigel Kirby)

“We wanted to focus on the quality of horses. Obviously there are lots of other good syndicates out there, but we wanted to take it to another level to give the opportunity to as many people as we can to be part of a top-class racehorse.

“The first three horses include a Welsh National winner, a Royal Ascot winner (The Lir Jet) and a Cheltenham Festival winner, and we’ll also be going to the Craven breeze-ups.

“Potters Corner costs £75 for 0.002 per cent share. We’ve bought a percentage of him from All Stars Racing, who have owned him from the start along with Jonathan Davies, who won the Six Nations with Wales.

“Only a small part of that fee is for the actual horse – the rest comprises the membership, a welcome pack which includes plenty of goodies, but also you get the whole experience of trainer videos etc.

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“Looking forward, we envisage having huge hospitality tents at Cheltenham, for example, so our members get a day on us at Cheltenham – that’s the vision we have going forward.

Potters Corner sporting his new rug
Potters Corner sporting his new rug (Nigel Kirby)

“Also we want to give a bit back. We’re in partnerships with the Injured Jockeys’ Fund, Racing Welfare, Retraining of Racehorses and Racing For School.”

Balko Des Flos has been priced at £80 per share, while the Michael Bell-trained The Lir Jet, who ran at the Breeders’ Cup last year, is £84.

Williams is pleased with how the last couple of weeks have gone for Potters Corner, given he was forced to miss Cheltenham with an overreach.

“Nothing phases him. If he wasn’t quiet at home, we’d be worrying. He seems in good form and has been a great horse for the yard,” he said.

“He had a little knock, an overreach, which can be nasty sometimes, and there was a bit of bruising – that’s the reason he missed Cheltenham – and he obviously would have bumped into a prime Tiger Roll that day, so perhaps it wasn’t a bad thing. It’s only a short time to Aintree, so we’re trying to look at it as a positive.

“The horses are flying, the yard’s flying, Jack’s (Tudor) riding plenty of winners, so we’re confident going there.”

He added: “RacehorseClub is a brilliant idea – it’s great for racing fans and fans outside of racing to get involved at a small price in one of the biggest sporting events of the year.

“It makes everything affordable. It doesn’t matter what share you own, if you’re sat at home and you can cheer your horse on, jumping up and down in the lounge, you don’t get a feeling like it.

“It would be great if Potters turns in and is going well in the Grand National.”

Balko Des Flos unseated Rachael Blackmore in the Glenfarclas Chase at Cheltenham, but trainer Henry de Bromhead retains plenty of faith.

He said: “Balko Des Flos is in great form, and his Grand National prep is going as planned.

Rachael Blackmore aboard Balko Des Flos at Cheltenham
Rachael Blackmore aboard Balko Des Flos at Cheltenham (David Davies/PA)

“He schooled this morning – we fixed our fences to replicate Aintree a bit. He was going really well at Cheltenham until he unseated Rachael at the wedges, but she said he was really enjoying it.

“I’m not sure who will ride him yet – because if Minella Times runs, Rachael might ride him. We also have Aidan Coleman, so he might ride what Rachael doesn’t.”

On the RacehorseClub, he added: “We have plenty of syndicates in the yard, including the Champion Chase winner Put The Kettle On among others.

“I think it’s a great idea – a one-off fee – it’s fantastic value for what you are getting.

“I am delighted to be working with such an exciting new venture, which offers such a great opportunity.”

Michael Bell, trainer of The Lir Jet, said: “I’m sure it will be a great success. The Lir Jet was one of last year’s top two-year-olds and looks an exciting prospect for this year.

“All being well, we will start him off in the Free Handicap at Newmarket’s Craven Meeting in a couple of weeks’ time – and then plans for the rest of the season will unfold thereafter.”

Late setback rules Potters Corner out of Cheltenham

Potters Corner will chart a direct route to next month’s Randox Grand National after a late setback ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival.

The 11-year-old was due to contest the Glenfarclas Chase over the cross country course on Wednesday after finishing third in a similar event at Prestbury Park back in November.

However, a minor issue has forced trainer Christian Williams to change course, with sights now set on April 10 at Aintree for the 2019 Welsh National winner.

Williams said: “He’s just got a slight over-reach and a little bit of inflammation in one of his legs.

“In a race as competitive as this, you just can’t run if there’s even a slight doubt. He’ll probably need two or three days of antibiotics, but it’s only minor.

“We’ll go straight to Aintree, it’s a minor thing but you don’t want to take a chance in a race of this nature.

“It’s disappointing for the yard, the staff and the owners.”

Williams looking forward to Cheltenham with Potters Corner

Christian Williams is happy to forgive Potters Corner a poor run over hurdles and is keen to have a crack at Tiger Roll and Easysland in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham.

In winning the Welsh National last season the 11-year-old sparked wild celebrations as a home winner of the great race – and he also had the unusual honour of ‘winning’ the Virtual Grand National when last year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic.

This season has all been built around a trip to Aintree via Cheltenham in March, but after a good first run over the cross-country course in November, things have not gone quite according to plan.

Christian Williams (right) with Jack Tudor and connections of Potters Corner following his Welsh National win
Christian Williams (right) with Jack Tudor and connections of Potters Corner following his Welsh National win (David Davies/PA)

He had to miss gaining further experience at Cheltenham in December and has run over hurdles the last twice – most recently at Exeter when he was pulled up.

“I’ve just put a line through it,” said Williams.

“The ground was terrible. He’s gone on soft before but that was something else, it was a hurdle race and I’m happy to just forget about it.

“We scoped him before he went and it was clean and took a blood test when he got back which was spotless.

“I’ve never seen him look as well as he does now and we took him to school at Cheltenham the other day and he’s never schooled as well so I’m hoping it’s just a blip.

“I can’t really be bullish given what happened at Exeter, but you can also pick holes in Tiger Roll and Easysland.

“We’re looking forward to it, we’ve got the horse where we want him. I would have preferred another race over the fences, but we missed December with a dirty scope. We got a school into him though and I’m very pleased.”

Cross-country plan for Potters Corner before National

Potters Corner is to have the Glenfarclas Chase over the cross-country fences at the Cheltenham Festival as his prep race for the Randox Health Grand National.

Trainer Christian Williams reports the 11-year-old, winner of the Midlands and Welsh Grand Nationals, to be in good form following his run over hurdles in a Pertemps qualifier at Warwick this month.

“Warwick would be a sharp-enough track for him, and he’s got a career-high mark over hurdles and is an 11-year-old, so he probably had it all to do,” said the Bridgend trainer.

“We were very pleased. He ran well until turning in. It was a nice positive run.

“He’ll go straight to the cross-country race at Cheltenham, I’d have thought.

“That will be his prep for the National.”

Potters Corner tackled the cross-country course at Cheltenham for the first time in November, finishing third to Kingswell Theatre.

2020 Welsh Grand National Trends

The Welsh Grand National has always been a big highlight over the festive period. With 3m 5 ½f to cover at Chepstow racecourse then stamina is a ‘must-have’ requirement when it comes to finding the winner, while if you like your trends you might want to know that 16 of the 18 winners have been aged 9 or younger, while 14 of the last 18 winners carried 11-0 or less.

This year the race was set to be run on Sunday 27th December 2020, but cancelled due to a waterlogged track.

However, the good news is that the Welsh Grand National has been rescheduled for Saturday 9th January 2021.

 

Recent Welsh National Winners

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2019 - POTTERS CORNER (8/1)
2018 – ELEGANT ESCAPE (3/1 fav)
2017 - RAZ DE MAREE (16/1)
2016 – NATIVE RIVER (11/4 fav)
2015 – MOUNTAINOUS (9/1)
2014 – EMPEROR’S CHOICE (9/1)
2013 -  MOUNTAINOUS (20/1)
2012 – MONBEG DUDE (10/1)
2011 – LE BEAU BAI (10/1)
2010 – SYNCHRONISED (5/1)
2009 – DREAM ALLIANCE (20/1)
2008 – NOTRE PERE (16/1)
2007 – MIKO de BEAUCHENE(13/2)
2006 – HALCON GENELARDAIS (7/1)
2005 – L’AVENTURE (14/1)
2004 – SILVER BIRCH (10/3 fav)
2003 – BINDAREE (10/1)
2002 – MINI SENSATION (8/1)

Key Welsh National Betting Trends

18/18 – Had won between 1-5 chase races before
18/18 – Raced within the last 7 weeks
18/18 – Had won over at least 3m before (fences)
16/18 – Aged 9 or younger
16/18 – Placed in the top 4 last time out
14/18 – Carried 11-0 or less in weight
13/18 – Aged 8 or younger
12/18 – Carried 10-8 or less in weight
12/18 – Had won just 2 or 3 times before over fences
12/18 – Returned 10/1 or shorter in the betting
11/18 – Irish bred
9/18 – Had won over fences at Chepstow before
7/18 – Unplaced favourites
7/18 – Won last time out
6/18 – French bred
6/18 – Had run in the Welsh National before
5/18 – Ran at Chepstow last time out
3/18 – Winning favourites
2/18 – Trained by Colin Tizzard
2/18 – Trained by Jonjo O’Neill
2/18 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
The average winning SP in the last 18 years is 10/1

 

 

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Williams relaxed about possibility of heading straight to Festival with Potters Corner

Christian Williams Williams would have no qualms about sending Potters Corner to the Cheltenham Festival without another run.

Last season’s Welsh National winner was due to run in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase on Friday, having finished third over the unique fences last month.

However, Williams was forced to rule him out of the race with a dirty scope and while it is not certain, he could wait until March to run his stable star again – with the Grand National in April his main aim.

“We’ll just look at the cross-country in March and the Grand National now,” said Williams.

“If he’d won on Friday he’d probably have had 10lb more to carry in the Grand National anyway.

“The way he jumped the fences in November I wouldn’t have thought he’d have needed another run over them before March – I was delighted with him from halfway.

Victory for Potters Corner sparked joyous scenes at Chepstow
Victory for Potters Corner sparked joyous scenes at Chepstow (David Davies/PA)

“Cheltenham are good to us, we gave him a little school over them the other day, which was when we found the dirty scope. We’ll probably do the same in March before the Festival.

“I don’t want to say he definitely won’t run again before March, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he didn’t as he could even go to Punchestown too, so there’s plenty of races at that time of year.”

He added: “It would have been nice for his owners to run, but I’m sure they won’t lose any sleep.

“What with Easysland out as well it’s unfortunate for Cheltenham as it looked a really classy race at the five-day stage.

“We take Cap Du Nord to school over the fences with him and he absolutely loves it. He might be one further down the line for these races.”

Easysland swerves Cheltenham outing on Friday

Easysland will not attempt back-to-back victories in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Friday.

The six-year-old, trained in France by David Cottin, was surprisingly beaten on his seasonal debut when only fourth to Kingswell Theatre over the course and distance last month.

He was odds-on favourite that day despite the presence of Tiger Roll, having beaten the dual Grand National hero comprehensively at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

It looked as if Easysland, owned by JP McManus, was going to return the Cotswolds for the race he won by seven lengths 12 months ago. However, Cottin is disappointed their horse would meet the first three that day – Kingswell Theatre, Beau De Brizais and Potters Corner – on worse terms, although an unsatisfactory scope means Potters Corner also misses the race.

Celebrations for the Easysland team at Cheltenham in March
Celebrations for the Easysland team at Cheltenham in March (Simon Cooper/PA)
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Cottin said: “Firstly let me report that Easysland is fit and well, and I am very happy with the horse.

“Unfortunately this weekend we won’t be going to Cheltenham to run in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase as I found it disappointing that the handicapper should see fit that we would meet the winner on 4lb worse terms despite being beaten by nine lengths, the second who beat us by four lengths, also on 4lb worse terms and the third horse on 1lb worse terms.

“Disappointed not to be going to Cheltenham this weekend, as it has been on his programme for the year and while his handicap mark was left at 167 which I have no difficulty with.

“It is hard to understand that we are to meet the winner, second and third on worse terms than the last day, considering they are both handicaps.

“We are very disappointed he is not going and having discussed with the owner, we had no choice. We did raise it with the BHA (British Horseracing Authority), but had no success.

“Hopefully we will be back at Cheltenham next March in good form.

Potters Corner will not run at Cheltenham on Friday
Potters Corner will not run at Cheltenham on Friday (Clint Hughes/PA)

The Cheltenham race had been due to see a second run over the unique obstacles for Welsh National winner Potters Corner, as he treads a path aimed at the Grand National.

However, trainer Christian Williams tweeted on Tuesday: “Potters Corner returned an unsatisfactory scope following his final preparation for Friday’s Glenfarclas Chase at Cheltenham.

“He will not run and was immediately scratched from the race at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Potters Corner to miss Chepstow in favour of cross country campaign

Christian Williams has decided to take the Tiger Roll route to Aintree with Potters Corner, and will skip a defence of this month’s Welsh Grand National in favour of the cross country chases at Cheltenham.

Potters Corner was a famous home winner at Chepstow last year, owned and trained by proud Welshmen, so the decision to stay away this time must have been a tough one – but Williams is adamant he is doing the best thing by the 10-year-old.

Potters Corner finished third on his first run over Cheltenham’s cross country course last month, and is set to return next week and then again at the Festival in March.

“I know the horse well and I know how long it took him to recover last year,” said Williams.

“I told the owners last year he only had a certain amount of those National-type races left in him – and with the cross-country races, they are constantly on the turn and it’s not the same endurance.

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“The ground is never too soft either, because they only race on it three times a year, (so) it doesn’t get opened up.

“It’s completely different – after he ran in the cross country last month, he could probably have run somewhere else the next day. But after the Welsh National, we were goosed for months before he was back to himself.

“We think he could win the Welsh National again this year, but I put it to the owners that we could go to Cheltenham with a realistic chance and still have him for Aintree – and they were brilliant about it.

“We think he’s got a good chance at Aintree – it will suit him, and we also think he deserves to go to the Festival with a chance.

“It was his first time over the fences the other day, so we rode him conservatively but we were delighted how he took to it. We’ll probably ride him further forwards next time and further forwards again in March – and he always comes on for a run.”

Williams will also scratch his other Welsh National entry, four-year-old Kitty’s Light – who was placed in the Badger Beers Trophy last time out.

He added: “Kitty’s Light will be scratched as well. He’s only four, so we might look at the Rowland Meyrick with him, and his main aim will either be the Bet365 Gold Cup or even the Scottish National – we’ll work backwards from there.”

The trainer saddled a good winner at Newbury on Saturday in Cap Du Nord, and this time next year Chepstow could be on his agenda.

“Cap Du Nord might just be a staying chaser in time,” he said.

“He’s been a great horse for us. I think he’s the type who copes better in better races. We thought he was better than his rating, and he’s in a better place this year.

“He could be a Scottish National type. I don’t want to say he doesn’t go on soft yet, but he broke the track record at Newbury.

“He’ll probably go to Kempton on December 27 for a 0-140 – and then I’d have thought the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster, which I won as a jockey on Big Fella Thanks, would be the race for him.”

Potters Corner not certain to defend Welsh National title

Last year’s Coral Welsh National winner Potters Corner heads 51 entries for the 2020 renewal – but he is not certain to defend his Chepstow crown next month.

Christian Williams’ charge sparked jubilant scenes after landing the extended three-mile-six-furlong marathon last December, with his owners including Wales rugby star Jonathan Davies.

The 10-year-old’s Grand National bid was then scuppered by the Covid-19 lockdown, but he reappeared with a fine third in Cheltenham’s cross-country chase last week, beaten seven lengths on what was his first outing over non-regulation fences.

While Williams has entered Potters Corner for the Welsh National again, Aintree in April is the long-term target and the trainer has yet to discuss the route to Merseyside with the gelding’s owners.

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He said: “I’ve not spoken to the owners yet, but obviously we’ve given him the entry in the race and we can make a decision later.

“It would be hard to pass up a big race like that, but we want to win the Grand National – which is a pretty big race too!

“Weight rises wouldn’t be the worry as much as he’s a 10-year-old now, so you don’t know how many more Nationals he will have in him and we thought the cross-country route might just give him a bit more longevity.

“I’ll have to talk to the owners and see what they want to do.”

Williams has also entered Kitty’s Light in the December 27 feature following his staying-on third in the Badger Beers Silver Trophy at Wincanton earlier this month.

The four-year-old has won three of his five starts over fences so far and Williams believes a stern test of stamina could play to his strengths, although he would have to defy the statistics with six-year-olds being the youngest winners in modern times.

He added: “Kitty’s Light is entered and the track would suit him a lot better than Wincanton. He just couldn’t quick get his jumping together there over three miles.

“We just never seem to get to the bottom of him, he just seemed to be getting going and he finished with his ears pricked at Wincanton. He looks like he could be made for this sort of trip.”

Celebrations for the Native River team at Chepstow in 2016
Celebrations for the Native River team at Chepstow in 2016 (Nick Potts/PA)

Colin Tizzard has won the race twice in the last four years and has 2016 victor Native River and last season’s Reynoldstown winner Copperhead among his possible team this time.

Notachance, Ramses De Teillee, Yala Enki and Lord Du Mesnil are also entered, along with Kim Bailey’s Newtide, who took part in a racecourse school with stablemate Vinndication at Newbury on Tuesday.

Bailey said: “He is in at Haydock on Saturday and he will probably either run there or go to the Rehearsal Chase the following weekend. His long-term aim is the Welsh National.”

Six entries from Ireland include Tony Martin’s At The Acorn and the Paul Nolan-trained Discorama.

Cross country option for Potters Corner

Potters Corner could kick off his campaign in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham next week.

The 10-year-old gave Christian Williams the biggest success of his training career so far when lifting the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow last Christmas, with his owners famously including Welsh rugby star Jonathan Davies.

Potters Corner was then due to head to the Grand National at Aintree, which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but he did still claim a victory of sorts because he came home first in a virtual edition of the great race, which raised £2.6million for NHS charities.

Williams took his stable star to school over Cheltenham’s cross country course on Wednesday and could now give him an entry in next Friday’s three-mile-six-furlong event, the first of three such heats run at the track over the season.

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He said: “He’s in good form, and we just thought the cross country route might give him a few more options, this season and next.

“Those staying chases are quite specialist, and you don’t want to be running in them every other week, so the other options for him are hurdles or those cross country races.

“He schooled very well – he seemed to enjoy it and he will probably get an entry at Cheltenham next Friday. I don’t think you go into those races first time thinking you’ll win – I don’t know how much experience you need.

“It might give him a bit more longevity, and if he’s badly handicapped you can have a look at the cross country route.”

Potters Corner also won the Midlands National in 2019
Potters Corner also won the Midlands National in 2019 (Clint Hughes/PA)

Dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll won the cross country event at the Cheltenham Festival before each of his Aintree wins.

Williams added: “It has worked out well for Tiger Roll – he’s a special horse, but so is Potters Corner.”

The Glamorgan trainer confirmed a delayed date with destiny in the Grand National is the top priority this term, although an exact course to Aintree in April has yet to be mapped.

“Aintree is the main aim this year,” added Williams.

“Obviously he won the Welsh National last year – but whether we want to run there again or look to Aintree, we’ll have to see what the owners want to do.”