What are the highest rated Welsh Grand National Winners?
Although a prestigious race in its own right, the Welsh Grand National has thrown up its fair share of Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National winners. According to Timeform, the three ‘best’ or, in other words, the three highest-rated, Welsh Grand National winners since the early Sixties were Burrough Hill Lad, Master Oats and Carvill’s Hill. Indeed, all three were awarded a Timeform Annual Rating of 182 or more, such that they can be considered truly great steeplechasers of the Timeform era.
Trained by Jenny Pitman, Burrough Hill Lad rose to prominence in the 1983/84, during which he won all five starts over fences. After an encouraging seasonal debut, over hurdles, at Nottingham, Burrough Hill Lad justified favouritism in the Welsh Grand National, despite being ridden at 3lb overweight by John Francome. Three months, and three wins, later, Burrough Hill Lad won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, thereby making Jenny Pitman the first woman to saddle the winner of the ‘Blue Riband’ event.
Rated just 1lb inferior to Burrough Hill Lad, Master Oats, trained by Kim Bailey, had already run in the Grand National at Aintree, falling at the thirteenth fence in 1994, before he won the Welsh Grand National later the same year. The race was run on New Year’s Eve at Newbury, rather than Chepstow, but Master Oats proved himself one of the best staying chasers in training with an impressive, 20-length victory over Earth Summit. The following March, it was a similar story in the Cheltenham Gold Cup; he was ridden clear in the closing stages to win by 15 lengths and the same from Dubacilla and Miinnehoma.
Unlike Burrrough Hill Lad and Master Oats, Carvill’s Hill never won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, despite being sent off even-money favourite for the 1992. However, his 20-length win, from a high-quality field, which included subsequent Grand National winner Party Politics, in the 1991 Welsh Grand National, under 11st 12lb, was one of the easiest ever seen in the history of the race. Sadly, that proved to be his swansong, but Peter Scudamore nonetheless described him as ‘the best staying chaser I rode’.