Space Cadet set to fly the Irish flag in Welsh Grand National

The Irish raider is a 50-1 outsider for the race, with last year’s winner Elegant Escape topping the betting

Space Cadet is set to fly the Irish flag in Friday’s Welsh Grand National where he will bid to join an exclusive group.

Just two Irish-trained horses have ever won the Chepstow marathon. Notre Pere created history for Jim Dreaper in 2014, while the popular veteran Raz De Maree landed the 2017 renewal for Gavin Cromwell, although the race was run in January of 2018. That was a fourth time that bad weather forced the Welsh National to be run in the "wrong" year but similar problems are not expected this time.

That's good news in one way for Co Meath-based trainer Gearoid O'Loughlin but not in another. "He wants extreme conditions and an extreme trip, so this is right up his street. You'd want an inspection in the morning for him!" joked Clare-born O'Loughlin, who works for owner Chris Jones at his Dunsany base.

Ground conditions at Chepstow are currently described as soft and heavy in places.


Jones switched Space Cadet from Gordon Elliott in the autumn, and the horse subsequently won two point to points before belying big odds with a fine fourth in the Troytown Chase at Navan.

"I served my time with Enda Bolger. and he seems to be rejuvenated. I had it in my mind to put a smile on his face. You wouldn't know what he'd do [at Chepstow]. He could run real well in that off bottomweight," he added.

O'Loughlin last saddled a winner in March' but his main role is as manager of Jones' pre-training base. His only previous cross-channel runner was Jarob who finished fifth in last season's Cross-Country Chase at Cheltenham.

Space Cadet is a general 50-1 outsider for the Welsh National, with last year’s winner Elegant Escape topping the betting. He is set to carry topweight but will have to contend with a single raider crossing the Irish Sea.

“It is a headache getting across at this time of year, but I wouldn’t go unless I thought he had a chance of picking up prizemoney,” O’Loughlin said on Sunday.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column