WELSH Grand National winner Iwilldoit did it again for Abergavenny-raised trainer Sam Thomas, returning to action for the first time since 2021 Chepstow glory to claim the prestigious Classic Chase at Warwick.
Thomas – who cut his teeth as an amateur jockey at David Evans’ Pandy yard yard before going on to win the Gold Cup on Denman – held the ten-year-old back from defending the Welsh title last month following a long-standing injury.
But Iwilldoit picked up where he left off 383 days since that triumph, galloping to an impressive 2 3/4L victory from Mr Incredible in the heavy going on Saturday, which saw bookies immediately install the horse as a 20-1 shot for the Aintree Grand National.
Ridden by Stan Sheppard, the South Glamorgan-trained Iwilldoit raced to the front two fences from home to give the Diamond Racing Syndicate another big pay day.
Thomas, who survived a horror helicopter crash in North Wales in November alongside prominent owner Dai Walters, choked back the tears as he said: “He’s the most genuine horse you could wish to train. Brilliant. It’s emotional.”
Whether he goes for the Grand National remains to be seen, but the French equivalent could be another option.
Of an Aintree bid, Thomas said: “I don’t know, he needs another run over fences, he’s still not qualified to run in the Grand National.
“It’s been a whirlwind season so far, so we’ll enjoy this today and go from there. Maybe the Grand Steeple-Chase (French Grand National) in May would be an option. That’s what I was thinking before I came here today and you would get heavy ground.
“You need a Gold Cup horse to win that, but he could go and pick up some prize money. He would have to get an entry (for Aintree) though.”
The trainer added: “We didn’t get him in till a bit later unfortunately and he missed the Welsh National.
“But he’s eating well and we can train him a bit differently now.
“Before the Welsh National last year he was hardly ridden. I’m just delighted for everyone. It’s emotional.
“He’s been a fussy eater and a worrier, but as the years have gone on he’s matured and knows what his job is –he’s certainly easier to train than he was.
“They are his conditions (heavy), the speed he was going at the start was the same speed he was going at the end, he’s very one-paced. It’s nice we can come and have a go in these big races, the softer the better for him and it is nice to see he is still able to win off that mark.
“He’s a star, he’s very genuine. You won’t find another horse to try like him – it’s very straightforward when they want to do it just like him.
“Credit to Stan who gave him a great ride and well done to the team and Leah (Dix) who rides him every day. That’s what we do the job for and it is nice we can come here and take on the big boys and have a go.
“We had a good start to the season, from November onwards for obvious reasons we struggled a bit. It’s not an easy game and you need these big winners to keep the wheel turning.”