By Peter Shuttleworth
BBC Sport at Chepstow Racecourse
Replay - Welsh Grand National
Dream Alliance completed a fairytale return to racing by winning the 60th Welsh National at Chepstow.
The 20-1 outsider, owned by a 22-strong Welsh syndicate, beat Silver By Nature by three-quarters of a length to win his first race after stem-cell surgery.
Favourite Le Beau Bai was third, 2007 winner Miko De Beauchene coming fourth.
But it was Dream Alliance's day, as Tom O'Brien rode the Philip Hobbs-trained eight-year-old to a first Welsh National win for jockey and trainer.
The winner's owners had feared for the gelding's life when he severed a tendon in his front leg at the 2008 Grand National meeting at Aintree.
O'Brien praises 'courageous' horse
But they paid £20,000 for stem cell surgery to save their "hobby horse".
Born just 30 miles away on a disused allotment next to Blackwood Rugby Club, Dream Alliance is owned by 23 regulars of the Top Club in Cefn Fforest who all pay £10-a-week for his upkeep.
And having previously won the 2007 Perth Gold Cup, he repaid them by jumping boldly throughout the three-mile five-furlong race, surviving a late stumble to secure the biggest victory of his career on just his second outing in 18 months.
The triumph was not just an emotional comeback from injury for the animal, but also for jockey O'Brien who celebrated his first victory after returning from a broken leg suffered at Hereford last June.
O'Brien only came in for the ride after Hobbs' number one jockey Richard Johnson opted to ride Kornati Kid, which failed to finish.
"Amazing. I've only had about 12 rides since I came back. I had a couple of seconds and thirds and I thought I was doing something wrong, but this horse is a courageous animal," O'Brien said afterwards.
"I broke my leg when a horse reared over on top of me and I was out for a couple of months, but this makes it all worthwhile. I love this game.
"When you're injured you're not in control, there's nothing you can do in that perspective. I'm just delighted I'm back now. It's a short career. I just enjoy every day of it."
Hobbs was also delighted to have recorded his first win in the race and for the winning syndicate.
"It's like a dream come true for the whole lot of them. It's amazing really and he's aptly-named," he said.
"At his best, his form is very good but he's probably a bit better fresh, so we waited a long time from his first run over hurdles.
"He was a few pounds out of the Hennessy so we decided to miss that and this was the option. There's no reason why we shouldn't go to Aintree now, but we will savour this for the moment."
Syndicate member and warehouse storeman Gwyn Davies added: "A Hollywood script writer could not make this up.
The fact Chepstow faced four inspections only added to the suspense - but it was all worth it for a teary-eyed syndicate manager and tax consultant Howard Davies.
"I am overwhelmed, I'm just in a daze, he said.
"The emotional rollercoaster that Dream has given us is just incredible - but the journey has been worthwhile.
"After all of his injury problems and what he has been through in the last 18 months, just getting him to race here was a miracle - but to win, that has just blown me away."
Coral Welsh National (Chepstow) 1. Dream Alliance (T J O'Brien) 20-1 2. Silver By Nature (P Buchanan) 14-1 3. Le Beau Bai (Mr O Greenall) 4-1 Fav 4. Miko de Beauchene (A Coleman) 33-1 18 ran. Dist: ¾, 7
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