After galloping for a gruelling three miles and five furlongs through the mud at Chepstow, it took a photo finish to split Emperor’s Choice and Benvolio at the line, with the former prevailing narrowly to give Venetia Williams her second victory in the Welsh National.
Glenquest, who led over the last for Stuart Crawford, held on for third, with joint-favourite Monbeg Dude taking fourth.
In the vanguard for much of the contest, seven-year-old Emperor’s Choice won the West Wales National at Ffos Las back in February for The Bellamy Partnership and takes his tally of victories to seven with the biggest success of his career to date.
“He took a long time to learn but he’s all about stamina,” said his trainer, who also won the race with Jocks Cross back in 2000. “When I saw him up at the front I thought he’d end up being outspeeded but he just stays and stays.”
Winning jockey Aidan Coleman, who has ridden the son of Flemensfirth in all bar one of his victories, added: “I’ve ridden a lot of big winners and I’ve been very lucky but I think this tops it.”
Chepstow’s biggest raceday of the year also featured the Grade 1 Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle, which was won in impressive fashion by Bristol De Mai.
Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies for Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, the youngster is now as short as 6/1 second-favourite in the betting for the Triumph Hurdle behind Peace And Co in the same ownership.
Bristol De Mai is a son of the French-based stallion Saddler Maker, who, despite being relatively obscure, is a well-bred horse, by Sadler’s Wells out of Animatrice, and thus closely related to successful dual-purpose sire Poliglote.