Potters Corner aiming to end Welsh drought
The Christian Williams-trained Potters Corner will join Tiger Roll in attempting to emulate Red Rum in next month’s Aintree Grand National.
Gordon Elliott’s superstar is attempting to match Red Rum’s haul of three wins around Aintree, and become the first horse ever to achieve three-in-a-row, but Potters Corner also has some similarities to the Ginger McCain-trained icon.
Life’s a beach
McCain famously prepared Red Rum on the beach at Southport as he took Aintree’s big prize in 1973, 1974 and 1977.
Williams, a jockey-turned-trainer, also uses his natural habitat on the coast of South Wales, with Potters Corner being put through his paces at Ogmore-by-Sea.
He says it is very much a matter of using the resources that surround him near his home village.
“I never had a particular plan to train on a beach, but you use what you have, don’t you? We also go down through the Ewenny and Ogmore rivers, next to us, to get there, and we’ve got the largest sand dunes in Europe here to train on as well,” said Williams.
“All the water is great for the horses’ legs and we can easily canter in deep sand for 20 or 30 minutes, and the breeze off the ocean means there are no flies.”
Welsh wait ended at Chepstow
Potters Corner won the Welsh National over Christmas and in doing so he ended a 54-year wait for a home success when beating Truckers Lodge by a length and three-quarters under teenage rider Jack Tudor.
Like Tiger Roll, he has already won two Nationals, his home success supplementing a success in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter last season.
He has been allotted a mark of 152 for next month’s Grand National and will carry 10st 6lb in his quest for Aintree glory.
“I think he could have a real chance in the Grand National at Aintree. He’s economical and it could really suit him. He travels on the bridle, which is not what staying chasers usually do. He’s got a touch of class,” added his trainer.
“Red Rum was trained on the beach like Potters Corner and these things do happen. I’m not sure how much more movement there is in his mark but he just keeps winning and hopefully he’s not done yet.”
A century of hurt
One For Arthur’s win in 2017 was just the second time a horse trainer in Scotland had won the Grand National at Aintree. While English and Irish-based horses have become heroes on Merseyside routinely down the years, the Welsh have been waiting more than a century for a winner.
Kirkland in 1905 was the last Welsh-trained scorer in the Grand National at Aintree. Potters Corner has advertised his credentials and Williams, who rode Royal Auclair to finish second to Hedgehunter in 2005, feels his 10-year-old is now at the peak of his powers in terms of having a chance in the greatest steeplechase of them all.
“I think the course will suit him as he’s not an exuberant horse – you can’t be too exuberant, using up too much energy – but he’s a clever horse and he’ll stay [the four and a quarter mile distance] and the sort of [softish] going they usually have will be OK,” said Williams.
“He fell twice last year, but I think he’s better now. Last year, he maybe wasn’t really an obvious Aintree horse, but at Chepstow he never missed a beat and was a pleasure to watch.”