Thirteen months after one of the most grueling days of her coaching career, Nicky Martin had an afternoon she’ll never forget in Chepstow on Tuesday as The Two Amigos gamely battled all her rivals from the front to win the Coral Welsh National at the third time he asked.
The defining event of the season Chepstow has always been a clear target for The Two Amigos, who finished fifth in the Christmas Marathon in 2019 and then a close second the following season. On the day entries were due in November 2021, Martin was “making some dramas” at her farm in Somerset and forgot the entry deadline until it had passed.
As Martin noted at the time, “maybe these things happen for a reason,” and The Two Amigos’ moment in the spotlight finally arrived on Tuesday, in appropriately defiant fashion.
His jockey, David Pritchard, sent the 10-year-old into the straight lead, with The Big Breakaway and The Big Dog in close attendance, then each challenged over three and three quarter miles. A mistake ended two of The Big Dog’s hopes of winning and featured Joe Tizzard’s The Big Breakaway as the final contender for the race being held in memory of Tizzard’s sister, Kim Gingell, who died in May 2020 at the age of 43.
Gyngell’s son Freddie, at Truckers Lodge at home four, was also in contention in the straight but The Two Amigos simply refused to give in and kept on to beat The Big Breakaway by a length and a quarter.
Martin’s Chepstow hex remained at least partially intact, as she was forced to miss The Two Amigos’ victory due to illness, but it was still a big moment for her little operation.
“This was absolutely amazing,” she said from her home. “It’s a shame we weren’t there, but I’m smitten with the flu and I’m not sure I could hang on to this weather today. Ironically, we desperately needed rain for it, we prayed for it and everything was fine.
“He really deserved it, he’s run really well twice before and he’s very popular. Dave did what he was told, got to the front and set the pace because he didn’t have weight and luckily it just worked out.
“It’s great for Dave too. He doesn’t get that many rides and as a Welshman it would mean the world to him.”
The day’s big race was also won at Kempton by the staying-powered rider, although the task faced by Editeur Du Gite, a 28-1 outsider, in the Desert Orchid Chase was significantly eased at an early stage when Edwardston, Tom Kanon favorite 2-5, floundering and undefeated at the fifth fence.
Then Editeur Du Gite went wide on the home course and easily held off the challenge of Nube Negra, the 4-1 favourite, over the last three fences.
“They are an amazing group of owners,” said Gary Moore, the winner’s coach. “They had an Ab de Grosje [the former Champion Chase winner] And now this horse. He is not a father de Grosje, but he is not far from him.
In Ireland, Willie Mullins enjoyed what, even by his high standards, was a fine evening at Leopardstown winning six of the seven races, only losing a ticket when none of his eight runners in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase could make the first 10 home.
The winner in that race was Real Steel from Eric McNamara, at 33-1, who began his racing career at Mullins’ yard, while the perennial Irish champions made up for a narrow loss in a clean sweep with a Grade 1 victory for Blue Lord, in the chase by a length Mylene, and his pioneering rookie pilot, Facile Vega.
Mullins’ other wins on the card included a first-time win over fences for Dysart Dynamo, who were losers in last season’s Supreme Hurdle at Cheltenham after going off as joint favorite alongside the impressive Constitution Hill.
Dysart Dynamo fought all out to win unchallenged by 28 lengths, now priced around 7-1 for the Arkle Cup at Cheltenham in March, in a market headed by Nicky Henderson’s Gunbon at 6-4.
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