Emperor’s Choice claims Welsh Grand National

Big leap at last looked to have sealed it for Irish challenger Glenquest, but he was running on empty soon after

Emperor's Choice showed endless stamina to deny Benvolio and Glenquest in a thrilling finish to the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.

The Venetia Williams-trained seven-year-old appeared to have blown his chance when making a mistake in the home straight, handing the initiative to the Irish challenger Glenquest.

A big leap at the last looked to have sealed it for bottom weight Glenquest, but he was running on empty soon after and his pursuers sensed their chance.

Benvolio seemed set to be the beneficiary as Sam Twiston-Davies hunted for glory, but Aidan Coleman refused to be denied on Emperor's Choice and the 9-1 chance prevailed by a short head and two and a half lengths.


Previous winner Monbeg Dude briefly threatened in the straight and stuck on for fourth.

Coleman said: “I’ve ridden some big winners in my career but this tops, it, I don’t know why. I’ve never had a feeling like that when the photo was called, it’s such a prestigious race and to win it for Venetia and the team is great. These are great owners of ours.

“Venetia is a world class trainer and she deserves better horses.”

Williams, winning the race for the second time after Jocks Cross in 2000, said: “I thought the fact he was in front meant the ground wasn’t testing enough or they weren’t going quick enough.

“I thought there would be too many in with a chance turning for home and they’d have too much speed for him, which they did, but when stamina really came into play he came back at them.

“He’s been all about stamina. He was a slow learner and took a while to get into gear. I never dreamed he’d be able to make the running in such a prestigious race as I didn’t think he’d be quick enough.

“It was really special for me as we had a box today with all my owners and friends and we were screaming, they must have heard us on the other side of the River Severn!”