Just 12 months after she suffered the ignominy of forgetting to enter her prized asset in the race, Nicky Martin enjoyed Welsh Grand National redemption as The Two Amigos triumphed in the Chepstow showpiece on Tuesday.
The ten-year-old has a fine record at the Welsh track, and had previously finished second in the Grand National there in 2020.
So the 2021 edition looked to be a chance for major glory for Martin, who normally runs a tight ship from her Somerset farm.
However, she simply forgot to enter The Two Amigos into the race having experienced ‘a few dramas’ in the run up to the deadline, and had to point at him at a three-mile handicap at Haydock instead, in which he finished second.
A solid start to the 2022/23 National Hunt campaign, and the softening ground at Chepstow, convinced Martin that her charge deserved another shot at the steeplechase, and this time she – and her horse – made no mistake.
The nearly four-mile marathon saw many challengers come and go, but The Two Amigos kept plodding on under a brave ride from David Prichard and eventually prevailed by a little over a length from The Big Breakaway.
The 16/1 winner was cheered on by Martin from home, who was unable to travel across the border due to illness.
“That was absolutely brilliant,” she said.
“He really deserved it, he’d run so well in it twice before and he’s so popular. Dave did what he was told, get to the front and dictate the pace because he had no weight, and luckily it all worked out perfectly.
“It’s such a shame we weren’t there, but I’m full of flu and I’m not sure I could have stuck that weather today.”
The rain came down hard in Wales, but Martin was in the sunniest of dispositions after her charge ended a 17-race losing streak.
What comes next for The Two Amigos?
The Welsh Grand National is a race that has opened the door for greater successes elsewhere for others in the past.
The 2019 winner, Potters Corner, would win the Midlands Grand National and finish second in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham.
The 2018 victor, Elegant Escape, finished second in the Cotswold Chase behind Frodon and placed in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase, and who can forget the story of Dream Alliance, the 2009 champion owned by a syndicate of pub-goers in the Welsh Valleys? His incredible story even sparked a Hollywood movie.
And this is before we mention some of the most famous Welsh Grand National winners of the modern era. Native River and Synchronised both went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, while Bindaree and Silver Birch would add more Grand National titles to their collection at Aintree in 2002 and 2007 respectively.
So clearly Welsh Grand National winners have, historically, gone on to achieve extraordinary things in racing. Maybe The Two Amigos will do likewise….assuming Martin remembers to enter him into top-class fare, that is.