The Coral Welsh Grand National is my favourite jumps race of the whole season, largely because I have enjoyed a good record in the race over the years.
You need a strong stayer, a good jumper and a well-handicapped horse to win the race. Usually, you want a mud-lover too but that’s not guaranteed this time around because of the lack of rain this autumn and early winter.
Chepstow, with its undulations and fairly tight turns, is a specialist track as well, so I usually only fancy horses with strong form at the course.
This year, however, I am going to make an exception and back a horse that ran in the race last year, only to be pulled up after his jockey lost an iron following a blunder at the ninth fence.
THE BIG DOG comes into the race this year hoping to land a hat-trick of big-race victories after two excellent wins in big-field handicaps in Ireland.
Peter Fahey’s nine-year-old gelding is extremely well handicapped as he can race here off only a 4lbs penalty for his win at Navan last month. Yet he has been put up 10lbs by the Irish handicapper for future races, which makes him favourably weighted for the Chepstow marathon.
Fahey confirmed the Welsh National race as The Big Dog’s target yesterday, saying he was hopeful of a ‘huge’ performance. I share that view and make him a decent each way bet at 12-1 with Coral and other bookies. The more rain between now and the off, the better because all his best form is with cut in the ground.
The dangers are headed by Venetia Williams’ Quick Wave, who is also well handicapped under his 4lbs penalty for a comfortable win at Sandown last weekend on his seasonal debut. At bigger prices, mud-lover Full Back could prove each-way value too but only if the rain arrives, so he is not a bet for now.
A week tomorrow, I will be hoping that ANNSAM wins the Howden Silver Cup Handicap Chase for the second year in succession.