Tag Archive for: welsh grand national

Thomas backing Iwilldoit to regain Welsh National crown

Sam Thomas hailed Iwilldoit as “the horse of a lifetime” as he goes in search of a second win in the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow.

Gold Cup-winning rider Thomas has been training since 2015 and Iwilldoit has provided him with two of his biggest wins to date.

Not content with winning this marathon contest in 2021, some 383 days later without the aid of another run he landed the Classic Chase at Warwick.

His comeback this year was over hurdles at Aintree, a pleasing effort in a Pertemps qualifier where he finished two lengths behind the useful Gentleman At Arms.

The 10-year-old will now return to fences and Thomas is hoping he will be in his element when partnered by 7lb claimer Dylan Johnston.

Iwilldoit winning the Classic Chase
Iwilldoit winning the Classic Chase (Nigel French/PA)

“We’re absolutely over the moon with him and he’s in great form,” said Thomas.

“He had a prep run at Aintree a little while ago now and has had plenty of time to recover from that. He’s since had a couple of away days and is in a really good place, we’re really happy with him.

“He will want it as soft as possible and we have decided to claim off him as well, taking 7lb off his back. We just feel if we’re ever going to go and win it again – he’s not getting any younger – we just want to do everything we can to give him every chance.

“Dylan was put to me by Olly Murphy a while ago and I’ve since used him on another horse. He’s a very good young lad and has a wise head on young shoulders. It’s a lot of responsibility for a 7lb claimer in a big race and the last thing we want to do is put any pressure on a young lad, but he looks like he will be fine.

“He’s been amazing for us and he would be a horse of a lifetime for any yard really. We’ve won some nice, big races with him and fingers crossed we can keep him in one piece and this might not be his last Welsh National yet.”

Joe Tizzard will saddle The Big Breakaway, an eight-year-old who finished second in the race last year and is regular in these staying chases.

Joe Tizzard's The Big Breakaway
Joe Tizzard’s The Big Breakaway (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

His most recent outing was in the Becher Chase at Aintree earlier in the month, where he was pulled up when not taking to the task over the Grand National fences.

The chestnut has had a day’s hunting to reignite his enthusiasm and Tizzard would love to see him go one better than last year to take the trophy run in memory of his late sister Kim Gingell.

“He let us down a bit in the Becher Chase, he just didn’t take to it – simple as that – but he didn’t have a hard race,” he said.

“He went hunting on Saturday and he proved last year that he’s capable of running a massive race.

“It’s the last year of the race being run in memory of Kim, so we will have the blinkers back on him and hope he runs a massive race. I think he has a big one in him, but he has let me down and we left the blinkers off over the big fences and now they are back on.

“He proved last year with a lot of weight he is capable of doing it, it just all needs to click.”

Fergal O’Brien’s team is in good form and he runs Autonomous Cloud in the race, a seven-year-old who made a winning start to the term when taking a Uttoxeter chase by six and a half lengths in November.

“He had his prep run at Uttoxeter a few weeks ago and if you could have planned a prep run, you couldn’t have planned it any better because there were three of them in a line and unfortunately one fell at the third-last and brought down the other one, so he had a gallop round for three miles but didn’t have a hard race,” O’Brien explained.

“That was ideal and he’s been training really well and we’re very happy with him.

“I think he had five or six runs as a novice over fences and he’s a lovely horse. If he’s not one for this Welsh National, he could be for another Welsh National or another National, he’s a beautiful horse.”

Gavin Sheehan is also in good from and he looks to extend a fine run with a ride on Jamie Snowden’s Super Survivor.

“I’m looking forward to him, he’s a lovely horse and had a great prep run,” he said.

“He ticks a lot of boxes for the race and hopefully it goes well on the day.”

Other notable contenders include Gary Moore’s Nassalam, winner of the Welsh National Trial earlier in the month, and the Paul Nicholls duo of Complete Unknown and Truckers Lodge.

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