Border raider Bai is Welsh wonder

Le BEAU Bai provided the closest possible thing to a first home-trained winner of the Coral Welsh National since Norther in 1965.

Third in Chepstow’s annual highlight in 2009 but mistakenly not entered last season, the gallant stayer was representing Richard Lee, whose yard is just over the English border in the Herefordshire village of Byton.

Le Beau Bai went off favourite the last time he lined up in the race and was supported into 10-1 yesterday, despite only sneaking into the handicap because of a recent course victory.

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Denis O’Regan on board Giles Cross led Charlie Poste and Le Beau Bai along at a steady pace and the duo stretched the rest out all over Monmouthshire before Giles Cross began to waver at the second last, allowing Poste to take command and drive his mount seven lengths clear.

“We’re in Herefordshire but only two miles from the border,” Lee explained. “The nearest town is listed as Presteigne (in Wales), but that’s six miles away and our postcode is Llandrindod so, because of where we are, the Welsh National is the one we wanted to win. It’s a fairytale for us.”

Of Le Beau Bai, Lee said: “He ran really well two years ago and I’d rather not talk about last year, which goes down as a secretarial cock-up. He’s two years older and much more mature but, if it wasn’t for getting the 4lb penalty for winning here the other day, he might not have got in.

“I was initially worried the ground wouldn’t be soft enough for him, but I knew he’d stay. This was his day, and he really deserved it.”

For Poste, 28, it was another major victory for one of the unsung members of the weighing room. He said: “There are a lot of lads like myself around, but Mattie Batchelor showed when he won the Hennessy on Carruthers that you can do it if you have the horse. It’s like Formula 1 – if you’re not in the best car, you can’t win.”

The supporting race, the Grade One Coral Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle, provided some consolation to trainer Donald McCain for the defeat of stable star Peddlers Cross at Kempton. Hollow Tree (13-8 favourite) is now a winner of three of his four starts over hurdles after pulling two and a half lengths away from Countrywide Flame, who looked a huge danger two flights from home.