Ask someone about the Grand National and they’ll most likely state that there’s only one, the English one held at Aintree every year. What those people may not realise is that there are also Grand Nationals in the other constituent countries of the United Kingdom, including Wales.
Before jumping into that, however, it is worth noting that as stated before, the most infamous Grand National takes place at Aintree and this year sees a tight pack when it comes to discussing the associated 2021 Grand National latest oddswhich can arguably mean that this year’s National may be one of the most competitive for many years. For instance, whilst Cloth Cap is the favourite at 7/2, there are at least three horses with the same odds of 10/1, notably Any Second Now, Secret Reprieve and Burrows Saint. Furthermore, arguably more within the midfield than in the frontrunners comes four horses at 20/1 and another eight each at 25/1 to win. Those in that bunch include the likes of Anibale Fly, who placed fifth in the 2019 National that was won by Tiger Roll for a second consecutive year.
When it comes to the Welsh National, however, this doesn’t take place in April but at the end of December, usually a couple of days after Christmas. Quite interestingly, the Welsh National was originally run on an Easter Tuesday and was moved then to February in 1969, before then being moved to late December where it has remained since 1979. The reason it was moved is perhaps ironic given the time of year it ended up being moved to – as a result of snow. As a result of its positioning before the following year’s Cheltenham Festival and the English Grand National, the Welsh event has become a good barometer of the competition for the following year’s running. There of course have been horses that have won both the Welsh and English Grand National. In recent times they have included both Bindaree and Silver Birch.
When it comes to history, the Welsh National is a more recent addition to the calendar, having been first run in 1895, whereas its English equivalent has been run at Aintree since the late 1830s. It’s not only in Wales and England where Grand Nationals have been run, as Scotland has had its own since 1867, although its running at Ayr Racecourse has only occurred since 1966. Much like its Welsh counterpart, there have been horses that won in Scotland and Wales, such as Music Hall, who was the first one to do it, winning the 1922 event. Only one horse has won both events in the same year, however. That feat took place in 1974 by the now legendary Red Rum, whose remarkable recovery a year prior at Aintree has gone down as one of the most legendary British sporting moments in recent memory.
Whilst the Welsh Grand National may not be as well known as the event at Aintree, that’s not to say that it’s any less exciting. If anything given its position on the calendar, the Welsh National should be the one that has the most attention paid to it as it may be possible to spot patterns in winners and gain more information about any future races.