When you’re piloting half a tonne of fit thoroughbred over 23 steeplechase fences in a three-mile six-and-a-half-furlong race, the last thing you want to happen part way around is a tack malfunction.
But when Adam Wedge sauntered to victory in the Coral Welsh National aboard Secret Reprieve on Saturday (9 January), that’s exactly what he found himself dealing with.
The gelding’s girth became unattached while the partnership was jumping the third from last fence. Despite the potential distraction from the flapping equipment, horse and jockey remained straight and true to the post to take the win for local trainer Evan Williams, who is based just 40 minutes from Chepstow Racecourse, in the Vale Of Glamorgan.
Luckily, with Adam riding at 10st 1lb, there was no lead to be lost from underneath the slipped saddle, which would have resulted in disqualification upon weighing in.
“I’m not sure what happened with the saddle,” Adam said to ITV Racing afterwards. “I think the girth snapped or came undone, but thank God we’ve got the overgirth and everything stayed in place. All credit to the horse — he’s an absolute warrior.”
Adam brushed off two heavy falls in previous races on the card, in order to ride in the Welsh National.
“This win makes up for the falls,” he said. “I’m so pleased for Evan and the team as it’s the one race he’s always wanted to win.”
An emotional Evan said after the race: “It means everything to win and the man on top has been crushed twice today, so he deserves so much credit.”
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Secret Reprieve, a seven-year-old by Flemensfirth and out of an Oscar marre, is owned by long-term supporters William and Angela Rucker and went off the 5/2 favourite. He executed a fabulous round of jumping to secure victory by three lengths, in front of The Two Amigos.
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