Welsh Grand National Hero Could Bounce Back Again in 2025

As the national hunt season draws to a close, many jumps racing trainers will already be looking ahead to the autumn, plotting for a new campaign. The 2023/24 jumps season was a strange one in many ways. There was the expected success from Irish trainer Willie Mullins on British soil, even if we did not quite believe how dominant he would be. And there was an unexpected capitulation from the yard of Nicky Henderson, particularly at Cheltenham. The success of the Skeltons, too, was one of the feel-good stories for British racing.

Yet, one of the most interesting stories of the season was the rise and fall of the Welsh Grand National winner Nassalam. The Gary Moore-trained mount was the start of the show at Grand National Day at Chepstow in late December, and many experts believed he could then go on to deliver at the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Aintree Grand National. Frankly, he flopped in both, although he did emerge with some credit.

Nassalam loves the mud

A mud-splattered Nassalam and jockey Caoilin Quinn leave their rivals trailing in the 2023 Welsh Grand National. Photo via https://twitter.com/RacingPost/status/1740069281310675414/photo/1

However, there are reasons to be confident that Nassalam can become a big player next season. His performance in the Welsh Grand National, which he won by 34 lengths, was remarkable, not just for the distance but due to the conditions. At the best of times, the weather conditions for the Welsh National aren’t pretty, but the 2023 running was a right old slog. Nassalam seemed to enjoy his time in the wind and mud, though.

It will be interesting to see whether Moore decides to target the Welsh Grand National again in December. He is a huge price for the 2025 Grand National, coming in at 66/1 in the ante-post horse racing betting markets for next year’s showcase at Aintree. Those odds will certainly shorten if Nassalam displays a similar amount of progress across the autumn and winter.

As mentioned, things did not go well for Nassalam in both the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where he pulled up, and the Aintree Grand National, where he finished 18th of 32 runners. Yet, there should be a sense among fans that those events came a bit too soon for him. Nassalam is just 7 years old, not quite at the peak age for a Grand National or Gold Cup. Only one 7-year-old has won the Aintree Grand National since 1970. And while a handful of 7-year-olds have won the Gold Cup, there is still plenty of time for Nassalam.

Nassalam could peak in 2025

Going into either event as an 8-year-old, particularly with the experience of having run in them before, will stand Nassalam in good stead next year. Aintree Grand National winners aren’t created in a vacuum, and it is almost always the case that they will have experienced the ups and downs of long-distance chasing before. The experience gained, even in defeat, will make Nassalam one to watch next season.

A word, though, on the conditions. Nassalam thrived in heavy ground last winter, and the conditions at Cheltenham and Aintree were not ideal last spring. But should the spring rains pour down next year, then this mud-loving horse may come to plunder some of jumps racing’s top prizes.