Chepstow have changed the running order of today’s prestigious fixture to ensure the Welsh Grand National is run on the best ground of the day.
It will now be the first chase on the card and the third race overall – and will also be the first televised race on Channel 4.
Coral Welsh Grand National
Officials at the Welsh course have tried everything to run this year’s renewal of the National and, hopefully, their persistence will be rewarded this afternoon, although the race may not be the greatest of spectacles – the ground conditions will be barely raceable and they are only likely to be a handful of very weary finishers.
Plenty of runners have form on heavy ground, but this going is even worse than the “usual” heavy and it is hard to know which horses will cope with it.
One whose claims look more solid than most is 2014 winner MOUNTAINOUS. He was pulled up in the race last season, but was out of form for all of that campaign and has looked revitalised this term with three promising runs to his name. Back on ground he relishes, and at a track he has won at twice before, he looks to have bullet proof credentials.
Philip Hobbs has a strong hand with a trio of fancied runners. If he can cope with the ground, and not get detached early, Return Spring could look the pick of the bunch as he stayed very well over hurdles.
Favourite Cogry will also be a threat to all after a promising comeback at Cheltenham recently in a race contested by a number of these. However, of those who ran in that contest, BLACK THUNDER could represent the best value as he would surely have been placed but for a shuddering error two out. He has always looked likely to be suited by an extreme trip, and his top weight is off-set by Harry Cobden’s claim. He has a touch of class.
Of those at bigger prices, Allez Vic blows hold and cold, but could just take to this unique test at a circuit he has run well at in the past. However, a safer each way option might be the lightly raced 11 year old, FOUROVAKIND, for in-form Harry Whittington.
He has looked to have a decent race in him for a while and he’s another who seems to reserve his best for the undulations of this Welsh course.
|Mountainous (ew)||1.45 Chepstow||11/1||Bet365|
|Black Thunder (ew)||1.45 Chepstow||14/1||Bet365|
|Fourovakind (ew)||1.45 Chepstow||25/1||Bet365, Coral|
Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle
The Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle that follows will be a real test for some young horses.
Given the unique conditions a shock is possible and it is easy to make a case for all of those likely to go off at double figure prices. It could be worth backing all four if the dead eight go to post and you can get upwards of 16/1 about the quartet, but our preferred option is CHIC NAME.
Richard Hobson nearly did us a huge favour with one of his novices at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and this up and coming young handler believes this horse has been crying out for a test of this nature.
Whichever of the Brian Llewellyn pair comes out on top shouldn’t be far away either and there may not be as much between Nabhan and Borak as the market suggests.
|Chic Name (ew)||2.20 Chepstow||33/1||Bet365|
Download The Coral Mobile App Novices’ Hurdle
The other horse to back on the Chepstow card is Minella Daddy in the opener, although the form of the Peter Bowen yard is a slight concern. If you can get some 11/1 with the race sponsors it is a risk worth taking.
|Minella Daddy (ew)||12.35 Chepstow||11/1||Coral|
William Hill Lanzarote Hurdle
Conditions won’t be much better at Kempton, which stages the Lanzarote Hurdle
If Ibis Du Rheu copes with the longer trip in this ground he looks the one to beat for the resurgent Paul Nicholls yard, but a safer option could be YALA ENKI, who we tipped for a valuable handicap at Haydock last time out. He didn’t quite seem to see out the 3 mile trip that day so this test could be perfect for him.
Given his connections, Western Warrior is the one most feared.
|Yala Enki (ew)||2.35 Kempton||4/1||Bet365|
William Hill – Bet On The Move Handicap Chase
Last season we tipped KRUZHLININ at a big price, ante post, for the Grand National, but after an encouraging warm up over hurdles he got injured and missed the rest of the season. Now with Philip Hobbs, he is still a horse to follow.
|Kruzhlinin (ew)||3.10 Kempton||7/2||Bet365|
William Hill – Home Of Betting Handicap Hurdle
Finally, the closing contest could fall to THE LAST SUPPER, who ran really well at Aintree last time out before her stamina gave way over 2m 4f. She is lightly raced and could still have a few pounds in hand in a race that looks less demanding than many she has contested recently.
|The Last Supper (ew)||3.45 Kempton||8/1||Bet365, William Hill|