Chepstow hosts the Coral Welsh National, Wale’s most prestigious jumps race. Run over three miles five furlongs on what will be heavy ground, to win this year’s renewal both accurate jumping and huge stamina reserves will be needed. Here are my thoughts on the runners!
Well Refreshed (8/1 Coral) has been backed into favouritism since finishing third in the London National at Sandown at the beginning of the month. He has form on heavy ground and, after winning the Grand National Trial at Haydock last season, has looked like the ideal sort for this type of race. With Tidal Bay in the race, this Gary Moore trained nine year old only has to carry 10st 2lb, and after returning to form at Sandown, he’s one sure to be right in the mix come the end of the race.
Irish raider Goonyella (8/1 Betfred) will be hoping to make it another success in the race for trainer Jim Dreaper, who picked up the prize with Notre Pere in 2008. Connections faced a logistical nightmare trying to get the horse over, with ferries from Ireland cancelled because of the weather. This meant that the six year old could only come over on Boxing Day, which to me is a worry. For a six year old to travel for the first time, and then to not have the necessary time to settle in properly, isn’t the ideal preparation. I’d be worried that this is a lot to ask of such a young horse.
The Rebecca Curtis trained Teaforthree (16/1 BetVictor) was last year’s runner up, when Monbeg Dude stayed on strongly at the end to beat him by half a length. Before finishing second in that race, Teaforthree had already had two preparation runs, whereas this season he has failed to have a single run due to a setback. He seems to be the sort of horse that comes on a lot for a run so is best watched today for the future.
TIDAL BAY (10/1 Betfred) carries top weight in the race, a full 10lbs more than any other horse. Despite this obvious disadvantage, I still fancy his chances. He won the bet365 at Sandown in 2012 in heavy ground, over a trip of 3m5f so has proven stamina. He showed his true potential when winning the Lexus last season, and on that form, he can’t be forgotten. Yes he is quirky, and yes you have to be patient with him, but jockey Daryl Jacob can take his time with him, and produce him at the end. With half of the field only carrying 10st, this will be a real test for the quirky Paul Nicholls trained twelve year old, but for me, has to be in with an each way shout.
The other runner for the in-form Nicholls yard is Hawkes Point (12/1 Stan James). Interestingly stable jockey Daryl Jacob sided with top weight Tidal Bay, which leaves Ryan Mahon with the valuable ride. Hawkes Point has only ever had ten starts under rules, but his trainer has believed that he is a marathon horse for some time. He has form on heavy ground, which will be vital, and has run well at the course before.
Merry King (10/1 Betfred) is Jonjo O’Neills only hope in the race, with Richie McLernon taking the ride. He is only a six year old, but ran an absolute cracker when finishing fifth in the Hennessy last month. He couldn’t quite go with the field towards the end of the race, but I wouldn’t be too worried about that. A race like the Welsh National normally turns out to be a slog and test of stamina, rather than an emphasis on a good turn on foot in the closing stages. One concern however, would be that he is yet to be tested over the distance.
Father and son team Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies are represented in the race by TOUR DES CHAMPS (16/1 BetVictor). I believe he is open to plenty improvement after running an eye catching race in the Scottish National back in April, when finishing fourth behind Godsmejudge. He won on heavy ground at Ffos Las in February, making all and staying on well. He performs a lot better when he has some giver underfoot, so conditions tomorrow will suit him well. Add to that the fact that he is another who also only carries 10st and you have my idea of a good each-way bet.
Emma Lavelle is still in great form and so Highland Lodge (10/1 Stan James) deserves to be at the top end of the betting. He’s a tough nut and will be hard to crack if still in with a chance over the last.
Richard Lee sends two to post – Mountainous (18/1 Stan James) and Knock a Hand (22/1 BetVictor), two horses both in with a shout after the rain arrived. Although Knock a Hand was impressive when winning at Carlisle on testing ground two weeks ago, I wonder whether this race will have come too soon? Mountainous has form around Chepstow, but is yet to be tested over a gruelling 3m5f.
As is the norm, this year’s renewal of the Coral Welsh National is an extremely open race. For me, I have chosen two each-way selections in the form of TIDAL BAY and TOUR DES CHAMPS. Tidal Bay is a class horse, and can’t be overlooked to run a big race, and Tour Des Champs, seems to excel with some give underfoot. To me he is open to improvement after an eye catching race in the Scottish National back in April.
TOUR DES CHAMPS (E/W) (16/1 BetVictor)
TIDAL BAY (E/W) (10/1 Betfred)
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