Even in the midst of all the madness, we perhaps didn’t envisage the 2020 Welsh Grand National being run in 2021!
After the initial race was forced off due to the weather on December 27th, we thankfully have a rearranged contest to look forward to on Saturday and still the 23 obstacles and the 3m6½f trip looking especially tough for the 18 runners on Chepstow’s heavy turf.
Here’s our shortlist of six for the £150,000 feature race:
Dominateur is a contender we’ve long thought went into the category of horses who we’re worried about in terms of chasing experience for a race of this nature.
As a newly-turned eight-year-old with only six chases to his name, Oliver Sherwood’s runner has his issues to overcome while the ground is also a worry. Although he did well against Pym on good going last time, he was easily beaten in the Midlands National and could struggle again here unless he can overcome that – though he does have the talent.
Lord Du Mesnil
Trainer Richard Hobson has gone on record this week to say that his horse is “no 16/1 shot” for this race, and we’d have to agree! He has plenty of experience and has earned connections some £150,000 to this point, yet at 8 is hardly over the hill.
His key piece of form is his second in last February’s Grand National Trial over 3½ miles on heavy ground, and on that run alone he’d have to make anyone’s shortlist for this contest.
Perhaps unsurprisingly after last year, local trainer Evan Williams has a strong hand in the Welsh National although most cash is still appearing to go on his Secret Reprieve at the head of the market.
Prime Venture has just turned ten and has run 13 times over fences, making him one of the more experienced types in the field, while his best career run was arguably last time out even though conditions were against him so we know he’s also in great heart.
Versus his earlier seasonal form, this chap took a jump forward when he was fourth in this race last time around and so if conditions are sufficiently to his liking again, and we know his trainer will have him spot-on for this, then he is an outstanding contender.
Still holding his place at the top of the market for Evan Williams even in the rearranged fixture, Secret Reprieve is younger and on the up but he’s here on merit having destroyed in Welsh Grand National Trial opposition in December.
Conditions aren’t a concern and he should still be getting better, but he hasn’t had to go as far as this before which always leaves a question mark, while he hasn’t had to face this many runners either making his price far too short.
Two from 3 in his fledgling chase career, Tom George’s contender has now had a proper rest given the rescheduling of this race and very much comes into contention.
There is no doubt in our minds that Springfield Fox will find races like this well within his compass in good time, and so he makes the list, but right now that lack of experience just tempers enthusiasm a smidge.
We’ve noted before that when running over hurdles, Truckers Lodge’s best performances were over longer trips, on softer ground and even at Chepstow which all bodes pretty well for this event.
Paul Nicholls’ runner now has two victories from his six chase runs as well, he’s been successful in the Midlands Grand National no less and given his running style we know he’ll be staying on all the way to the line. There is plenty in this horse’s favour, make no mistake.
Most of our original contenders have stuck around for this rearranged race, and once again we are left with the fact that some of them lack a little bit of chasing experience and others may not be suited by the weights.
With that in mind, Secret Reprieve and Lord Du Mesnil rate highly but may have their issues to deal with, leaving PRIME VENTURE as the one to be on. There are no real negatives about him and at around 14/1 and bigger he is also the value in the race for trainer Evan Williams.