Sunday, December 26, 2021

The 2021 Coral Welsh Grand National

Merry Christmas.

This past week I've spent more time with the lateral flow test kit than the form book; still, I like to take an interest in the Welsh Grand National (2.50 Chepstow).

Twenty are set to face the starter; the going is currently described as soft.

Native River carried top weight to victory in 2016 and bids to repeat the trick tomorrow. Colin Tizzard's charge has to give 10 pounds to stablemate and 2018 winner Elegant Escape and a minimum of 16 pounds to everything else; several in the field will run from out of the handicap. .

Secret Reprieve was backed as though defeat was out of the question for last year's renewal; carrying 10-01 Evan Williams' charge never gave supporters a moment's worry, coming home three lengths ahead of The Two Amigos with Captain Drake fourth, Truckers Lodge seventh and Ramses De Teillee twelfth.

Secret Reprieve hasn't seen a racecourse since. The trainer admits that isn't an ideal set of circumstances but this evening the horse is clear market leader.

In 2019 Potters Corner came home in front, beating Truckers Lodge one and threequarters lengths (Elegant Escape sixth); Christian Williams' charge ran a fine trial earlier this month, beaten a nose in the Glenfarclas Crystal Cup Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.

Truckers Lodge finished a distant fifth behind Iwilldoit in the Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at this track at the beginning of the month - the prep race Secret Reprieve won in 2020. Second horse home, Colorado Doc, was beaten 24 lengths. Sam Thomas' charge warrants every respect. 

Connections fit first-time blinkers on Truckers Lodge; on jockey bookings the stable's main chance appears to be Highland Hunter. 

Highland Hunter beat Deise Aba a nose in the London National at Sandown and here is weighted to confirm that form.

Midnight Thunder won last year's Edinburgh National at Musselburgh and followed up with victory in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr; on seasonal reappearance he was a well beaten fourth in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby.

Peter Fahey trains The Big Dog over in Ireland; this race has been a long-term target. Rated 132 over hurdles, the handicapper over here has allocated him a mark of 147.

This race also looks to have been the plan for Discordantly who sports a first-time tongue tie and fell in last February's Punchestown Grand National Trial won by The Big Dog.

On only his second start for current connections Hill Sixteen ran some race in the Becher three weeks ago, beaten a nose by Snow Leopardess with Achille fifth, Kimberlite Candy seventh and Mac Tottie falling. Previously Mac Tottie won the Grand Sefton at Aintree but he wouldn't be guaranteed to stay this trip.

Hold That Taught looks the pick of Venetia Williams' two runners and Maddy Playle has made the case for Eva's Oskar in the Weekender but in a very competitive race I think Hill Sixteen looks unexposed while Captain Drake is overpriced at 40/1. 

Stablemate Ask Me Early was ante-post favourite for this race before taking a heavy fall on the schooling grounds. In a recent stable tour, Harry Fry said of Captain Drake:

"It always takes him a run or two to get into the swing of things and the plan is to go for the Welsh National again, having finished fourth last season. The problem we face is he's 8lb lower than 12 months ago, so it'll be touch and go as to if he gets in at the weights. He's a proper mudlark and I feel he could run a big race if he gets in. I know he's not the easiest horse to catch right, but there's a big handicap in him."

He's eight pounds 'wrong' tomorrow but Lorcan Murtagh can claim three and connections have opted to try blinkers for the first time.

At the time of writing Paddy Power stand out offering 40/1 and pay six places.

Captain Drake is the each-way suggestion.


Anonymous said...

Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase

180,DEISE ABA(IRE),7.4
178,MAC TOTTIE(GB),1.4
171,EVA'S OSKAR(IRE),0.2
171,THE BIG DOG(IRE),0.2

Native River tops the system output courtesy of his win in Sandown’s Cotswold Chase in February of this year. The system rates that win his best ever performance and his 190 rating is based on the effort so too soon to write him off just yet but the gut feeling is he’ll never hit that high again.

It’s another race I’ll pass on but you gave a positive mention to Hill Sixteen in your post and that would be my value play. HS does not quite tick enough boxes for a bet but at 18/1+ he should give a decent run for the money.

Conditions look fine for Captain Drake but I’m not sure there is much ‘spare’ in his rating and think he may find a number of these better handicapped.

Season’s greetings [hope the LF test shows negative sooner rather than later], best of luck in today’s race and for a successful 2022 for the blog.


GeeDee said...

Season's greetings, TW!

Thanks once again for providing your ratings; wishing you the best of luck for the year ahead.

GeeDee said...

The challengers came from far and wide to take part in the Welsh Grand National - England, Ireland and Scotland - but for the third year in succession the spoils went to a horse trained in Wales.

Selection Captain Drake (28/1) was one of a number that were hampered by the standing start but it made little difference - he raced on and off the bridle and jumped particularly slowly at a couple in the back straight on the first circuit.

Just as I shouted 'What are playing at, Cap'n?', Lorcan Murtagh administered a couple of reminders and the partnership raced mid division for a brief period of time before 'getting behind' on the second circuit. Captain Drake was pulled up before five out.

The well-backed Iwilldoit (13/2) was hampered at the standing start but it made little difference - Sam Thomas' charge quickly recovered to make stealthy headway and take up the running three from home.

He saw off sole serious rival Highland Hunter (11/1) before the final flight to win by nine lengths with Truckers Lodge (28/1) pipping Achille (16/1) for third spot and last year's winner Secret Reprieve (6/1f) the only other horse to finish, just under 45 lengths behind the winner.

2016 winner Native River (16/1) lost his position going out on the second circuit and was pulled up; after the race connections announced the horse's retirement.

What a grand servant - his defeat of Might Bite in the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup will never be forgotten.