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Welsh National makes it a Sunday race day; turf talk.

Byline: Brian Lee

FOR the first time in its history the Welsh Grand National, first held at Cardiff's Ely Racecourse in 1895, will be held on a Sunday (December 27).

Over the years, it has been won by many Welsh trainers and riders but the last time it was won by a horse actually trained in Wales was 50 years ago, in 1965, when former Welsh point-to-pointer Norther, trained by Denzil Jenkins at Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan and ridden by Terry Biddlecombe, won by a length from the Fred Winter trained Quintina.

During the Second World War, Squadron Leader Jenkins DFC had taken part in 192 flying operations and after the war he was a leading point-to-point rider.

As for the well-bred Norther, who was a splendid jumper, he went on to finish seventh in the Aintree Grand National and was also runner-up in the Scottish Grand National the following year.

The first horse trained in Wales to win the Welsh Grand National was Freddy Lort-Phillips' Succubus which had actually dead-heated with Dick Dunn in the 1914 renewal but who had won the run-off by 10 lengths.

Freddy Lort-Phillips, who trained at Lawrenny Park in Pembrokeshire, trained Wales' only Aintree Grand National winner Kirkland which had won in 1906, but that's another story.

Fast-forward to 1926 and we find Miss Balscadden, trained by Colonel Morgan Lindsay at Ystrad Mynach, and ridden by Pyle's David Thomas in the winner's enclosure.

Miss Balscadden went on to win again in 1928 only that time it was Barry's George Bowden in the saddle.

The next time a horse trained in Wales was to win its most prestigious horse race was in 1959 when G R Lewis, the former Posy Morel and a director of Chepstow Racecourse, saw her eight-year-old Limonali trained at her Llantwit Major farm and partnered by David Nicholson run out an easy winner of the 1959 race.

The following year, 1960, it was the turn of another former Welsh pointto-pointer to win, the 10-year-old mare Clover Bud, owned and trained by Tenby farmer Gordon Gordon Llewellin, and she gave David Nicholson the second of his three wins in the race.

Clover Bud, who was tough as old boots, won easily from Skatealong and went on to win six more times.

Nicholson's third win in 1961 was on little Limonali again, which came home five lengths ahead of Chavara with the previous year's winner lover Bud a further two lengths away in third place.

According to the racecard, Limonali was trained by Mrs Lewis's son Ifor, and when he had won in 1959 her brother Clem was down as trainer.

But almost everyone knew that the horse was trained by his owner. Women back then were not allowed to train racehorses.

Two horses trained in Wales in recent years which have come close to winning are Evan Williams' Cappa Bleu, trained at Llancafan in the Vale of Glamorgan, and which finished third behind Le Beau Bai and Giles Cross in 2011 on heavy going which he hated, and Rebecca Curtis' Tea For Three which finished just half-alength behind Monbeg Dude in 2012 and who was trained at Newport in Pembrokeshire.

Hopefully, Williams, Curtis and perhaps those other two notable Welsh-based trainers Peter Bowen and Tim Vaughan will have runners in this year's renewal and perhaps go on to give Welsh enthusiasts something to cheer about.

Brian Lee is the author of the recently published The Welsh Grand National - from Deerstalker to Emperor's Choice, published by The History Press at PS14.99.

You can e-mail your news and views to brianlee4@virginmedia.com or phone him on 029 2073 6438

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<BTrainer Rebecca Curtis with Tea For Three which finished just half-a-length behind Monbeg Dude in 2012 in the Welsh Grand National. Tea for Three was trained at Newport in Pembrokeshire Wales News Service
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 8, 2015
Words:644
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