VENETIA Williams’ hopes for Saturday’s Grand National look set to rest on Cloudy Glen after the Wye Valley trainer opted instead for Easter Monday’s Irish National with Gold Cup veteran Royale Pagaille.
But Gold Cup winning jockey-turned-trainer Sam Thomas, who started his riding career at Venetia’s King’s Caple yard, looks set to run London National winner Our Power in the Aintree showcase.
Sadly it wasn’t to be at Fairyhouse on Monday, with mud-loving Royale Pagaille a faller.
Williams has also withdrawn Grand National Trial winner Quick Wave from Saturday’s race (April 15), although Cloudy Glen, third at Haydock behind its stablemate last February after a year out, was included in the five-day declaration of runners.
The 2021 33-1 Ladbrokes Trophy winner carries odds of 80-1 - better than the 100-1 odds when Venetia’s Mon Mome famously galloped home 12L clear in the 2009 National under the late Liam Treadwell.
Thomas, who comes from just over the border in Abergavenny, will be looking to end a 118-year wait for a Welsh-trained winner in the Randox Grand National this Saturday (April 15) after his horse made the five-day field.
He told a virtual press conference organised by Great British Racing how much it would mean to him to land the National, after a horror helicopter crash that he survived in November left part-owner Dai Walters in intensive care.
Thomas, whose yard is owned by Walters near Cardiff, is relishing the appearance at Aintree of Our Power after victories in the London Gold Cup at Ascot and the Coral Trophy at Kempton.
The 20-1 chance, also owned by James and Jean Potter, is the second shortest priced British-trained National contender, and the Welshman said: “It’s been a tough season and any winner we can train for Mr Walters is incredible, while the Potters have been huge supporters of mine since I’ve been down here as well.
“It’s a fairytale to have a runner with a chance in a race of such magnitude. Even being in the parade ring with all the buzz and hype is going to be an incredible feeling.
“For all the money the Potters and Dai invest into the sport, it’s only fair they have a good chance in a race on the biggest stage.”
The Gold Cup winner, who saddled Denman to victory over stablemate Kauto Star in 2008, added: “It’s been tough for him (Walters) and the family, but he’s at home recovering now and everything is certainly going the right way.
“He enjoys his racing and seeing the horses running and it gives me more of an incentive to try to do well with the horses at home.
“Everything is going the right way though and I can’t imagine what it would mean to him for it all to go well, dare I say. I think he’ll be watching from home with his family.”
Kirkland back in 1905 was the last Welsh-trained winner of the National and Thomas, whose biggest win as a trainer to date was Iwilldoit in the 2021 Welsh National at Chepstow, said: “We’ll be sucked in by the buzz and atmosphere when we get there and I’m sure we’ll be dreaming, which probably isn’t good for any of us.
“If we were to win it would be beyond anything any of us could imagine and it’s what this sport is all about.”
The Grand National is live on BBC1 on Saturday at 5.15pm.