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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 December, 2004, 14:08 GMT
Sweet success for Silver Birch
Silver Birch and jockey Ruby Walsh
The well-backed favourite Silver Birch put in a superb jumping display to take the Welsh National at Chepstow.

The horse, who was 11-2 at the start of the day, was the subject of a massive gamble and went off the 100-30 favourite.

But under the guidance of Ruby Walsh, the Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old was never in any danger once he took the lead with five fences to go.

He travelled well and although Strong Resolve finished strongly, Silver Birch won by two lengths to follow up his Becher Chase win and put himself in contention for the Aintree Grand National.

Chives, who finished second in this race in the past was third while L'Aventure came from well off the pace to secure fourth.

Strong Resolve had been in a good position from early on, challenging for the lead with last year's winner Bindaree, a former Aintree winner.

But Walsh had his mount well in contention throughout the race and it was only a matter of time before he challenged the leading two on the final circuit.

"He jumped super and travelled great," said the delighted Walsh. "He idled a little bit in front but he has plenty of guts and kept at it.

"He pinged the last when I really needed a good jump and he stuck his head out.

"In the last 100 yards I was doing a bit of panicking but he's a pleasure to ride and it was great to be on him."

Welsh National, Chepstow (3m 5f)
1. Silver Birch (R Walsh) 100-30f
2. Strong Resolve (P Buchanan) 8-1
3. Chives (D Elsworth) 5-1
4. L'Aventure (PJ Brennan) 15-2
17 ran. Dist: 2, 1





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