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Memorable Nationals; Mountainous' victory in last season's Coral Welsh Grand National added to a long list of memorable winners of the big race at Chepstow. The Richard Lee-trained horse scraped to the line a head and half-a-length clear of the Paul Nicholls pair Hawkes Point and Tidal Bay. Here, we look at some of the other great finishes and history-making races at the Monmouthshire course.

1949: Fighting Line

Chepstow hosted the Welsh Grand National for the first time in 1949 - and rather aptly, it was won by a Welsh-born jockey. Dick Francis, who was born and bred in Lawrenny, Pembrokeshire, brought Fighting Line through to comfortably hold off favourite Old Mortality and score by eight lengths. Francis was one of the greats of the saddle, riding for the Royal Family and becoming champion in the 1953-54 season. He, of course, found lasting fame as the bestselling writer of thrillers.

1956: Crudwell

The race marked the first on-course commentary of the race by former England and Glamorgan cricketer Johnny Clay, who was later to become a director of the course. Clay's dulcet tones described Dick Francis riding his second Welsh Grand National winner on Crudwell, who produced a flying finish to pip Billy Budd by a head.

1961: Limonali

Jockey David Nicholson completed a hat-trick of wins on board Limonali, who was also winning the race for the second time. Nicholson, who later became one of most revered trainers in the history of National Hunt racing, had the choice of riding one of the previous two winners in Clover Bud and Limonali, and chose the right one as the 10-year-old held off the challenges of Chavara and Clover Bud in the driving rain of Monmouthshire. Limonali was owned by Chepstow Racecourse director Posy Lewis and trained by her son Ifor.

1965: Norther

A popular Welsh winner as former point-to-pointer Norther, owned by Glanville Jones and trained in Cowbridge by Denzil Jenkins, came through to beat Quintina by a length after trailing going over the last. Norther was ridden by Terry Biddlecombe, who went on to enjoy huge success with his wife Henrietta Knight as the training team behind three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate.

1973: Deblin's

Green Coral's long association with the Welsh Grand National began in 1973, and they were rewarded with an exciting finish. Almost four inches of snow had fallen during the week and it melted to provide ideal conditions for mudlark Deblin's Green to come though and win as six horses fought out the lead at the last. Welsh jockey Taffy Salaman was on board the gallant second-placed Sixer.

1976: Rag Trade

Flamboyant hairdresser 'Teasy-Weasy' Raymond Bessone was in the winner's enclosure as owner as his Rag Trade took advantage of a last-fence fall by Gylippus to storm home under jockey John Burke. Chepstow was a great form guide for Aintree as Rag Trade became the first horse since 1896 to win the Welsh and English Grand Nationals in the same season, beating the legendary Red Rum into second place.

1982: Corbiere

A moment of history at Chepstow as the first three home in the Coral Welsh Grand National were trained by women. Jenny Pitman's Corbiere, who went on to win at Aintree a year later, fought out a tremendous finish with Pilot Officer, trained by Mercy Rimell. Eventually, Corbiere got home by a head, with Helen Hamilton's Peaty Sandy a well-beaten third. Pitman went on to win the race on two more occasions with Burrough Hill Lad (1983) and Stearsby (1986).

1989: Bonanza Boy

History was made at Chepstow when Bonanza Boy became the first horse to win the Welsh Grand National in successive seasons. There had been four previous dual winners, but no horse had ever followed up a victory the next year. Martin Pipe's eight-year-old was sent off the 15/8 favourite and, despite a poor start and being hampered by a faller, he justified his backing with a 15-length win. It was the start of a golden period for Pipe, who won five Welsh Grand Nationals in all.

1997: Earth Summit

There was much anticipation ahead of the 1997 race after the two previous Welsh Grand Nationals had been abandoned due to frost. This time rain was the threat, but the meeting went ahead, and 25/1 shot Earth Summit revelled in the conditions under Tom Jenks to win from Dom Samouri and Samlee. Unfortunately for Jenks, he was injured later that season and missed the ride on the nine-year-old at Aintree, where Earth Summit became the first horse to win the English, Scottish and Welsh Nationals, with Welshman Carl Llewellyn taking over at Liverpool.

2007: Miko De Beauchene

In an emotional and tense finish, Miko de Beauchene got up in the dying strides to beat Halcon Genelardais to give trainer Robert Alner a huge success. But Alner wasn't there to witness it, he was in Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, having broken his neck in a car crash a month earlier and being left paralysed. Instead, it was his wife Sally and jockey Andrew Thornton who collected the winner's trophy amid tearful scenes.

2009: Dream Alliance

Forget Seabiscuit or National Velvet, the victory of Dream Alliance was the one that Hollywood scriptwriters wished they had penned. Born on a disused allotment next to Blackwood RFC, Dream Alliance was owned by a syndicate of 23 regulars of the Top Club in Cefn Fforest, who all paid PS10-a-week for his upkeep. After an operation to repair a severed tendon which looked likely to end his career, Dream Alliance produced the fairytale ending to beat Silver By Nature and send his owners delirious. And, five years later, the documentary Dark Horse was released, charting Dream Alliance's tale.

2012: Monbeg Dude

The December date saw the course waterlogged and, instead, the race was rescheduled for January 5, 2013. It proved a right royal and rugby occasion as Monbeg Dude, owned by rugby stars Nicky Robinson, James Simpson-Daniel and Mike Tindall, the husband of The Queen's grand-daughter Zara Phillips, and trained by former Ebbw Vale and Wales Under-19s player Michael Scudamore, edged out home favourite Teaforthree.


Tom Jenks and Earth Summit on their way to victory in 1997
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 22, 2014
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