A race steeped in history, the Welsh Grand National has been on the go since 1895 and despite it not carrying quite the same level of prestige as the big one at Aintree, no mugs win this race.
Horses of the calibre of Earth Summit, Bindaree, Silver Birch, Synchronised and Native River have won this event in recent times and whatever happens in this renewal we are bound to get Cheltenham and Aintree clues.
Here are the best seven as we see it:
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ runner reappeared in the Becher Chase at Aintree and it was thought he was bang in with a chance, a fall at the 11th fence however means we have no real idea what sort of form he was truly in.
His best chase form to date was his penultimate run when beaten just a nose in the Scottish Grand National so his staying credentials are not in any doubt, though going this distance on very soft ground may still prove slightly tricky.
We’ve seen a mixed bag of form from Kerry Lee’s ten-year-old and it wouldn’t surprise me too much too see him run very well, though these days we need to see a potentially well handicapped horse every bit as much as one who can handle the trip and ground and on that score others rate more highly.
A warm order for this for some time; Colin Tizzard’s charge was a good second in the Ladbrokes Trophy but in truth Sizing Tennessee was in a different league that day and his form in beating Thomas Patrick was unfortunately for this column not really franked in the Garrard Silver Cup.
Having had only nine chase races though this horse is nowhere hear his best yet and indeed his profile is one of an improving horse overall and so he simply must be there or thereabouts at the business end of things assuming a clean round of jumping.
Having had only six chase starts and not having gone beyond 3m2f many will think this horse may flounder for a proper test, but on the flip side he has managed to advance through the ranks without having had to put his best foot forward really and he is the one I expect the most improvement from on the day.
That improvement crucially could make him anything up to 10lbs ahead of the handicapper and in a race of this nature that is something we simply cannot afford to underestimate.
Ramses De Taillee
There has been a lot of talk recently about the exploits and achievements of Martin Pipe over the years and to be frank, son David could probably do with a big race win like this.
His Ramses De Taillee came to Chepstow on heavy ground earlier in the month and won the Welsh National Trial in convincing fashion but this is a very different test of opposition and so I’d have liked to have seen him win his prep race even more forcefully.
Probably a little overpriced; Peter Bowen’s entrant gained plenty of experience over hurdles and has a record of four wins and four seconds in his 10 chase starts.
He’s bang in form at present and can go well, though I can’t get away from the fact that his chase rating has flattened out about the same as his hurdle one and with 38 rules races under his belt already he may have found his level and may not improve a hell of a lot.
Improving nicely over the larger obstacles and showing a liking for a test, Sue Smith’s runner may come into his own in this sort of race but in creeping up the weights for winning narrowly he may just not be the best treated runner in the field on this occasion.
Naturally in a race like this a whole host of horses appear to come out very close together when handicapped with the likes of Rons Dream and Ramses De Taillee probably decent bets for places.
Potentially a step above them at the weights though are Elegant Escape after his Sandown and Newbury runs, and especially hat-trick seeker LOOKSNOWTLIKEBRIAN. Tim Vaughan’s runner won so easily at Carlisle the last twice and is probably undervalued for a horse who has the most potential to improve on the day.