After the hullaballoo of the Cheltenham Festival and with the Grand National and the flat season still feeling like a lifetime away, we need something else to sink our teeth into and as usual the Midlands National comes along with consummate timing.
The race doesn’t have as big a field as it could have had, perhaps down to the very heavy going, but the race conditions themselves mean only certain horses can be considered seriously including these six:
Well backed for an Ascot three-miler last time when unseated, he’s probably better judged either way on his comfortable Exeter win the time before over the same distance on soft ground.
That was just his third chase start and there is surely more to come from Harry Fry’s charge, whether or not it comes over this extreme distance being the only question left to answer.
Christmas In April
Very well backed for this after three wins in his last four starts, Colin Tizzard’s gelding took a big step forward in the Devon National last time and is sure to be one of few definitely comfortable facing this test.
He has gone up another 8lbs for his latest 8-length win, but he’s undoubtedly going the right way and with the assistance of Richard Johnson up top he looks capable of putting in another career best performance, something that has to see him go close.
Just Your Type
Pulled-up last time which is never ideal, Just Your Type of the Charlie Longsdon yard had previously been setting about proving his love of heavy ground and also extreme distances.
Those qualities have to bring him into contention for this race given that so many will be crying off at the business end of the race here, but ultimately despite finishing second in the Borders National he has been beaten fair and square in most of his assignments and is on the same mark in a more competitive race.
Lucy Wadham’s gelding is ten now and won’t be giving us his very best, but he’s in good enough form generally to creep into contention off a handicap mark some 8lbs lower than his peak.
The slower pace he’ll face over this distance could reignite some sort of a spark in the bay, so place money for him is not out of the question here.
A nine-year-old with experience and yet remaining on an upward curve generally is the kind of combination we like, so added to the mix this horse’s love of soft going and his fine third in the Welsh National which confirmed he can stay there is plenty to like.
The downside about Evan Williams’ runner is that he is 0-11 over fences which is far from ideal, so while a big run is likely should all be well with the horse, he is just about passed over for win purposes.
Se Mo Laoch
With three wins from 15 runs this horse has proven he can get his head in front, he likes a battle, stays well and definitely prefers heavy ground which is something we can’t say for most of his rivals on the day.
His standout performance was last time out when he won a three-mile handicap chase at Navan on this sort of ground, a race that will have prepared him perfectly for this assignment.
The fact that he is improving and looks set to top what he’s done so far makes him an obvious contender, but with trainer Brian McMahon taking the decision to accrue the costs of bringing him here from Ireland confidence is even higher and it’s hard to see him not running very close.
A tough race to call given that so few runners have had a chance to properly prove themselves in the conditions, there is always a fair bit of conjecture and guesswork involved but Prime Venture is one who is almost certain to go well, his win record being the only thing that puts us off a tad.
Potters Legend can roll back the years with a big performance, but the standout contender is the raider SE MO LAOCH who looks very overpriced considering he is at his best right now and promising to get better.
With conditions underfoot right in his favour and enough evidence to suggest he can stay forthcoming; he is worth an each-way bet at prices up to 16/1 at the time of writing.