The usually fiercely competitive field has been assembled, runners and connections looking to emulate recent winners of this famous race including Elegant Escape, Potters Corner, Secret Reprieve and Iwilldoit.
£150,000 is the prize pot for the 2022 renewal, while readers should also look out for the Grade 2 Finale Juvenile Hurdle earlier on the card.
If recent patterns are to be repeated, a bang in form and improving type is likely to win this race. In any event, these are the five horses we liked best against the field.
Ask Me Early
Harry Fry’s runner was third at Bangor in November over fences and it looked as though there was more to come from him.
Indeed, the grey has already shown better form as a novice and so we can assume his handicap mark is very fair now, while he has also had winning experience at Chepstow albeit in a rollover.
The form of his Bangor run has certainly worked out well. The winner that day, Le Milos, followed up in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury making that form look rock-solid.
Venetia Williams’ mare really does have everything we’re lucking for in a current Welsh Grand National contender.
At nine she is experienced enough to cope, yet has taken in just 12 chase starts and has more to offer. She stayed 3m5f last time with no issues, has been winning easily and is bang in form.
Taking her wins at Ludlow (January) and Sandown (24 days ago) literally, then she’d be ahead of the handicapper anyway we reckon off a mark of 149. She is in this off a lower mark however and she has won so easily that we don’t know where her ceiling really is, but it certainly isn’t in the 140’s.
She is well off at the weights, bang in form, a proven stayer and a big improver.
The Big Breakaway
Joe Tizzard’s runner certainly has age on his side, not that he’s too short of mileage over fences either.
He has won only one of his 9 chases so far, that being on his debut over the larger obstacles, but he’s been consistent since and was runner-up in a good handicap at Haydock last time over almost 3¼ miles.
He earned his 148 rating after his very first chase, so still being rated the same and being in form means we are sure he is well handicapped, we just don’t know how well.
The Big Dog
Ireland’s Peter Fahey has a very real contender on his hands.
Much like Welsh National winners of the recent past, he has won his last two races and appears to be improving in lumps since a slump in form from last October onwards.
He’s improved the best part of a stone from race to race in October and November this year, and while another jump forward of that size isn’t quite expected, a big run still is.
He stays three miles very well, the negative factor being that he pulled up in this race twelve months ago.
The Galloping Bear
Dorset’s Ben Clarke trains the Galloping Bear and it would be a huge coup for the stable if they won this race.
He didn’t win in three attempts in bumpers and hurdles, but he was 3-6 in point-to-points and is 3-4 in steeplechases meaning this really is his domain and there should be more to come.
In fact, he can be treated as unbeaten for form purposes over fences as he won last time in the Grand National Trial in February at Haydock, only to be disqualified for a banned substance.
Assuming all is well with him, this proven stayer can race off the same mark and yet should be a step further ahead in his progression now.
Ben Jones and Ben Clarke have a major shout at some Christmas glory here with their Galloping Bear and he is a clear second choice on our book.
As time goes on and the tasks appear tougher, he comes into his own and so he remains a really big danger to the selection which is QUICK WAVE.
Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch’s runner cannot be ignored given his profile, how well handicapped he looks and because of the fact that he is a confirmed ‘in form’ runner which is needed in this contest.