Welsh Grand National winner Potters Corner may not return to Chepstow to defend his crown after Christmas, as connections plot a path towards the Grand National at Aintree.
There was barely a dry eye in the house when Potters Corner claimed Welsh Grand National glory last December. Roared home by the raucous home support, Christian Williams’ chaser held off Truckers Lodge and Prime Venture, becoming the first Welsh-trained horse to win his home Grand National since 1965.
Williams’ charge gained further notoriety on Grand National day in April. Although the race itself was cancelled, ITV still opted to run the Virtual Grand National. Plenty of firms took betting on the computerised version of that fabled handicap, and it was Potters Corner who came out on top, defeating Walk In The Mill, Any Second Now and two-time defending champion, Tiger Roll.
Potters Corner and Tiger Roll met for the first time in real life earlier in November, as the Welsh National winner made his first start in a Cross Country race at Cheltenham’s Showcase Meeting.
Williams had said that his 10-year-old had schooled well over cross country fences, and Potters Corner acquitted himself well to finish second behind Kingswell Theatre. Tiger Roll, unfortunately, had to be pulled up.
That outing would seem like the ideal preparation for a return to the Welsh Grand National. Yet, connections have thrown a return to Chepstow into serious doubt.
“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!” Williams said to ITV following Potters Corner’s run at Cheltenham.
“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.”
“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.”
A hike in the ratings would see Potters Corner try to defend his crown off a mark five-pounds higher than what he won off 12-months ago. Yet, the possible presence of former Welsh National winner, Native River would see the defending champion carry a similar weight into battle.
If Williams does decide to skip Chepstow, then we might not see Potters Corner again until he runs in the Cross Country on day two of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival. Aintree has a powerful allure, but the chance to become just the second horse to successfully defend the Welsh Grand National trophy may be too powerful for Potters Corner’s patriotic connections to pass up.