Potters Corner to use Cross Country as National prep

Last Updated 28 Jan 2021 | Commercial content | 18+

Christian Williams has revealed he plans on using the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival as his final prep-race for the Randox Health Grand National-bound Potters Corner.

The 2019 Welsh National hero has had two runs this season and is being geared for a tilt at the Aintree showpiece in early April.

Yala Enki Welsh National

Welsh National – Chepstow Racecourse: Potters Corner ridden by Jack Tudor on their way to victory in the Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase at Chepstow Racecourse. David Davies/PA Images/Ritzau Scanpix
Yala Enki trailing Potters Corner.

Potters Corner ran a pleasing third in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham’s November Meeting behind Kingswell Theatre – a race in which dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll was pulled up, while reigning Cheltenham Festival Cross Country kingpin Easysland could manage only fourth.

Williams recently gave Potters Corner a spin around Warwick over hurdles, where he finished mid-pack in a competitive 3m1f handicap.

Cheltenham Festival stop planned

Williams now suggests that a return to the unique Cross Country challenge at Cheltenham in mid-March will be the plan for Potters Corner before fixing his sights on Aintree.

“Warwick would be a sharp-enough track for him, and he’s got a career-high mark over hurdles and is an 11-year-old, so he probably had it all to do [in that hurdles run]” said the Bridgend trainer.

“We were very pleased. He ran well until turning in. It was a nice positive run.

“He’ll go straight to the cross-country race at Cheltenham, I’d have thought. That will be his prep for the National.”

The Cross Country race has been a successful stopping point for Tiger Roll en route to his famous Aintree double in the Grand National in 2018 and 2019.

Gordon Elliott’s star is expected to tread a similar path this spring as he continues to be targeted at a delayed hat-trick bid in world’s greatest steeplechase following the 2020 abandonment.

Beach trips emulate Red Rum

Williams has revealed in the past that Potters Corner has some similarities to the great Aintree hero Red Rum.

The three-time Grand National winner was famously taken to the beach at Southport by his trainer Ginger McCain as part of the prep-work for his Merseyside successes in 1973, 1974 and 1977.

Potters Corner meanwhile gets put through his paces at Ogmore-by-Sea, close to Williams’ home in Bridgend, Wales.

“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.”

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