First run in 1895, the Welsh Grand National is one of the most competitive betting heats of the National Hunt season.
This year’s renewal is no different with a number of the contenders closely matched on ratings and it promises to be a fantastic spectacle with runners from both Britain and Ireland lining up.
Here are our horse racing expert’s thoughts on Chepstow’s big handicap of the year.
Elegant Escape likely to head the market
Tizzard’s runner comes into this off the back of a second-place finish in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury. He was soundly beaten by Sizing Tennessee that day and it’s possible his reappearance win at Sandown left its mark.
Prior to that he was very progressive and is respected for the trainer who won this two years ago with Native River, but on the back of two tough races and in a race as gruelling as this I’m prepared to leave him out.
Ramses De Teillee (8/1) is another interesting contender based on his good win on heavy ground at Chepstow earlier this month. That win was over 2m7f though and there must be doubts about his stamina over 3m5f here. If he stays, he looks primed for a big run, but again at single figure odds, he’s not for me.
Ireland eye back-to-back winners
Ireland took the race 12 months ago with Raz De Maree and they’ve got two likely challengers in the form of Folsom Blue and Baie Des Iles.
Gordon Elliott’s Folsom Blue is getting on a bit at 11, but his win in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February followed by a fourth in the Irish Grand National prove his ability in these staying handicap chases. He’s of definite interest and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him at 10/1 with Grosvenorsport.com.
While I expect him to go well, my main fancy is Ross O’Sullivan’s Baie Des Iles and I think this seven-year-old mare is primed for a very big run. She ran well to finish 12th in the Grand National at Aintree in April before an excellent Grade Two win at Auteuil in June. She has heaps of stamina and that will such an asset for this especially if the ground gets really soft. Back her at 12/1 to make it back-to-back wins for Ireland.
It’s unlikely he’ll get in, but if he does, I’ll definitely be throwing a few quid each-way on Henry Daly’s Back To The Thatch at 16/1 who looks ridiculously well handicapped.
The six-year-old was viewed as a marathon chaser to look out for at the beginning of the year after a resounding 11 length win at Chepstow in January. He was then cruising in the Eider Chase at Newcastle over four miles in February before falling, which I expect knocked his confidence a bit.
He’s only 7lbs higher than that win at Chepstow and there has to be loads more to come this season. He had a nice pipe opener at the beginning of the month and could go very well if making the cut.