The Welsh Grand National takes place at Chepstow on Saturday and it is likely to be a survival of the fittest.
The race was slated to take place on December 27th, but officials were forced to abandon due to a waterlogged track. A shade over a week and a half later, we’re back for a second go and although conditions are raceable, they will be attritional.
Throw in the stiff nature of the Chepstow track and that the horses will be asked to gallop for three and three quarter miles, and we are in for a slugfest that could well see very few finishers from the initial starting party of 20.
It may not be pretty to watch for a long way, but there are horses who positively revel in such testing conditions; it’s a case of finding which runner will be on its game on the day.
Chiselled veterans such as Bishops Road, Milansbar, Firebird Flyer, Raz De Maree and 2014 Welsh National winner Emperor’s Choice are back for another crack at the Chepstow marathon – but the market makers feel the race could go to a horse who is dipping his toe into the race for the first time.
Mysteree, trained by Michael Scudamore, heads the betting with 188BET at 8/1. The 10-year-old’s fitness has to be taken on trust, as he’s not raced since March, but he looks well suited to a slog in the mud having landed the Midlands Grand National on his most recent outing.
Chase The Spud followed home Mysteree in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter and is a 9/1 shot for the race. He was a winner on his seasonal bow when sloshing through the Haydock mud to score and there should not be much between the two once again.
Leading trainer Nicky Henderson is not a huge fan of the race so it could be viewed as a tip that he is letting Beware The Bear take his chance. He looks to have stamina in abundance, but whether he wants extremes of ground is a matter for debate. For those who think he will cope, they can back him at 9/1 with 188BET.
Wild West Wind is another in single figures at 9/1 and Tom George’s runner is at home on heavy ground, but he is stepping up markedly in trip and any stamina doubts will be exposed.
Vintage Clouds is a horse who looks tailor made for a slog in the mud over an extreme distance. He’s an eight-year-old who looks a stronger horse this season, judged on his win on his seasonal bow and excellent second to Clan Des Obeaux at Haydock. If he can get into a decent jumping rhythm, he could give his supporters a run for their money at 12/1.
Shocks have not happened very often in the race, the biggest-priced winner since the turn of the century was 20/1, but long shots often run into places in the race and Silsol makes appeal at 25/1 with 188BET.
Paul Nicholls’ charge was not sighted on his return to action at Haydock, but that was on the back of a long absence and a stamina test in the mud is what he wants. Bryony Frost takes off five pounds thanks to her claim and that will be of real benefit.