WELSH Grand National champion Raz De Maree will be returning next month to defend his title.

A total of 67 horses have been entered for the Coral Welsh Grand National, which is due to take place at Chepstow Racecourse on Thursday, 27 December.

The sponsors Coral make Anthony Honeyball’s mare Ms Parfois the ante-post favourite at 8/1, following a string of impressive performances as a novice last season.

Colin Tizzard’s Elegant Escape, currently favourite for Newbury’s Ladbrokes Trophy, is also entered. The ante-post second favourite with the sponsors at 10/1, Elegant Escape could look to follow a similar path to stablemate Native River who followed up victory at Newbury by winning the Coral Welsh Grand National in 2016 before going on to win the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Raz De Maree is entered by trainer Gavin Cromwell, a famous winner of the 2017 renewal (run in January 2018), aged thirteen, ridden by then sixteen-year-old jockey James Bowen. Raz De Maree was also runner up in the 2016 Coral Welsh Grand National.

Bowen has since gone on to be nominated for BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year and for a Stobart Lester Award for Jump Ride of the Year for his Coral Welsh Grand National win.

The entries also feature dual Scottish Grand National Winner, Vicente, trained by Paul Nicholls, in the famous colours of Trevor Hemmings, while Bob Buckler enters his 2018 Midlands Grand National Winner Regal Flow.

Top Irish trainer Gordon Elliott enters a total of six horses, including Monbeg Notorious, Dounikos and 2016 Irish Grand National winner, Rogue Angel in the famous colours of Gigginstown House Stud.

“It’s another typically high-class Coral Welsh Grand National set of entries, with our early favourite the mare Ms Parfois, following some high-class efforts as a novice, while second favourite Elegant Escape could head to Chepstow hoping to emulate his Colin Tizzard trained stablemate Native River, who completed the Ladbrokes Trophy, Welsh National double two years ago,” said Coral’s David Stevens.

Executive director of Chepstow Racecourse, Phil Bell, commented: “We are really looking forward to another fantastic Coral Welsh Grand National in December, with some great entries.

"The race has a habit of throwing up some real stars of the British jumping scene, whether they be superstar horses like 2016 winner Native River, or jockeys like James Bowen whose career has gone from strength to strength in the last twelve months.”

For more information, or to buy tickets to the Coral Welsh Grand National, please visit www.chepstow-racecourse.co.uk.