Which racecourse originally hosted the Welsh National?
Nowadays, the Coral Welsh Grand National is a Grade 3 handicap steeplechase run over 3 miles 6½ furlongs at Chepstow Racecourse, where it has been hosted since 1949. In its history, the race has assumed various positions in the calendar, but in recent years has been scheduled for December 27 each year. The race is also the subject of the longest-running commercial sponsorship in British horse racing, having been sponsored by Coral bookmakers since 1973; understandably, more often than not, it is referred to by its sponsored title.
Prior to Chepstow, the Welsh National was staged at Caerleon Racecourse, on the banks of the River Usk, just once before its closure in 1948. The race was established at Ely Racecourse, to the west of Cardiff, in 1895, largely as a result of the popularity of horse racing in the Principality. Indeed, the inaugural running was watched by 40,000 spectators, many of whom overwhelmed the stewards and effectively gatecrashed the meeting. The Welsh National remained at Ely Racecourse until its closure, in the face of dwindling attendances, in 1939. After a brief hiatus for World War II, the race was transferred, briefly, to Caerleon and hence to Chepstow.