Welsh Grand National: Chepstow racecourse '99.9% certain' over race

Welsh Grand National
Last year's Welsh Grand National had to be run in January after Chepstow racecourse was waterlogged on the original date for the popular event

Organisers of the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow are "99.9% certain" the 2016 race will go ahead on schedule.

This year's event is on Tuesday, 27 December but three of the last six races were run in January after weather postponements.

"The weather forecast this year is very much on our side," said racecourse executive director Phil Bell.

"The weather figures outside are plus-five and plus-10; not much rain at all so we're 99.9% certain to race."

A record 102 original entries have been made for the race with trainers and owners attracted by a £30,000 rise in prize money, which now stands at £150,000 for the race.

Among the prospective runners this year are Native River, winner of the Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury, Grand National runner-up Last Samurai and former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere.

The 2015 race was run in January, 2016 and won for the second time by Mountainous.

Bell says past postponements have has caused financial problems with smaller crowds attending on rescheduled dates.

"We get crowds in excess of 10,000 and if we do have to re-run it in January, that crowd drops by about a third.

"We are looking at every single weather website. We have our own forecasting service who we speak to daily."

If the weather takes a turn for the worse, Bell says plans are in place to use covers costing £30,000 to beat the effects of frost or rain.

"We'll do everything we can. We'll put every precaution into place that we can," said Bell.

"Money will be no object. It's incredibly expensive to cover the racecourse, but we will do that to give the race every chance of going ahead."

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