CLASS told in the Welsh Grand National, with the victory of the improving six-year-old Elegant Escape.

He’d finished second in the Ladbroke Trophy, formerly the Hennessy, and justified market support in the lead-up to the race. The Grand National is an obvious target, but whether he runs in it this year remains to be seen. The horse will now have a rating that entitles him to run well in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and his owner is keen to enter him.

In the last decade, Synchronised and Native River have shown that the Welsh National is a stepping-stone to the blue riband of steeplechasing.

The runner-up, triple course winner Ramses De Teillee, could have finished closer but for a mistake four fences out. Now that we know he has plenty of stamina, he is another who would have a good chance in the Aintree National.

Earlier that afternoon a stirring battle for the Finale Hurdle ended with Quel Destin outgunning Adjali, the early Triumph Hurdle favourite, and showing he has improved greatly since he was second at Chepstow’s Jump Season Opener. This was his fourth win since then.

David Probert stole a race at Lingfield on Cosmeapolitan on Monday by coming wide to make a dash for home halfway down the descent into the straight – rather than waiting until the final bend, which is the most familiar tactic at Lingfield. That enterprising manoeuvre paid off, as the rest of the field, led by his better-fancied stablemate, could not get to him.

That was the 102nd winner in 2018 for Probert, only five below his best annual total, and achieved despite missing a couple of months last winter to ride abroad.

Probert rides for local trainers today at Wolverhampton – Ron Harris’ Fantasy Justifier (1.45) and John Flint’s Air Of York (3.20) – though his best chances may be on Minuty (1.10) and Crossing The Line (2.50).

The David Evans stable is displaying more signs that it is coming out of the doldrums. At Lingfield on Sunday Anif was having his first run for them. Despite the 2018 form figures of 3550066, he was backed from an initial 11/1 in to 9/2. He enjoyed an undisputed lead and made all the running. His jockey John Egan confided after the race that Evans had told him Anif would win, adding, “He rarely gets it wrong.” The horse pulled up slightly lame, but it didn’t appear to be too serious.

Robert Stephens had high hopes for Beltor four years ago. He won at Ludlow and then an impressive victory in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton in February 2015 was good enough to send him off as second favourite for the Triumph Hurdle, where he finished sixth after being struck into. His form was respectable the following season, but then he was off the course for 20 months with a chipped knee bone and tendon troubles. Stephens has nursed him back to fitness and on Sunday, with the handicapper showing suitable leniency, he was able to win at Taunton. Now he faces the challenge of keeping him sound.

Chepstow’s fixture on Monday, January 7th, may not reach the same heights as the Welsh National meeting, but there will still be six interesting races and entry is only £10 if booked in advance, £15 on the day.

Another great value option is the two-course carvery meal for £40 per person, including admission.