Monday, December 26, 2022

The 2022 Coral Welsh Grand National

Nineteen have been declared for tomorrow's Welsh Grand National (2.50 Chepstow) with the ground currently described as good to soft, good in places.

Heavy rain is forecast but at the time of writing it's questionable how much will fall before off time. 

Connections of leading fancy The Galloping Bear have indicated they won't run if the rain doesn't materialise - and I note a number of confirmed mudlarks are towards the top of the market.

The top weights in the past three years were rated 160 (Elegant Escape); 159 (Yala Enki); and 166 (Native River). 

The Big Dog, trained by Peter Fahey in Ireland, heads the weights tomorrow with a rating of 153.

Owners Damien and Colin Kelly had this race as a target last year but The Big Dog made a bad mistake at the ninth fence - jockey Jonathan Burke lost an iron - and the gelding was quickly pulled up; they try again tomorrow off a mark six pounds higher. 

Four weeks ago The Big Dog won the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan (Regina Dracones fell at the second) worth 59,000 euros. The majority of his races have been on soft or heavy ground.

The mare Quick Wave heads the market this evening; she finished 28 lengths behind Fortescue at Sandown in March but subsequent wind surgery certainly looks to have helped Venetia Williams' charge who dotted up in the London National and is only four pounds higher here.

Her stablemate Farinet won the track's Welsh Grand National Trail three and a half weeks ago but hasn't been declared; at present he holds an entry for a handicap chase at Cheltenham on New Year's Day. 

Ask Me Early likes cut in the ground but unfortunately didn't make the cut for last year's race. His third behind Le Milos at Bangor on seasonal debut reads well given the winner won the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury next time out. 

Course winner The Big Breakaway was only just beaten by Fontaine Colonges at Haydock on seasonal debut (Musical Slave fifth, Truckers Lodge ninth). He ran a strange race that day with a couple of slow leaps in the early stages before making ground up the home straight.

Musical Slave certainly won't be inconvenienced if the rain stays away and his second behind Hewick in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April reads well. 

He lost two places in the closing stages behind Fontaine Collonges last time; he hasn't looked entirely trustworthy in the past but the fitting of cheekpieces has certainly brought about improvement.

Truckers Lodge was second in this race in 2019 behind Potters Corner and third last year in first-time blinkers off a mark of 150.  

He has to be of interest off 141 and Freddie Gingell can claim seven in a race run in memory of his mother. I note the blinkers are back on; in the past Truckers has shown his very best form on soft / heavy ground.

Fantastikas looked to have a hard race up front in the Becher Chase last time (Fortescue fourth) but Movethechains looks relatively unexposed and could be anything. That said, the Weekender informs me: 'No winner in more than three decades was making its seasonal reappearance'.

Rebecca Curtis saddles two course winners - Pats Fancy and Wayfinder - and both were disappointing last time.

The former was tailed off in a handicap hurdle and the latter pulled up behind Farinet in the trial race referenced above - Time To Get Up was another pulled up in that same trial race.

Wouldubewell isn't the biggest of mares. She appeared to tire four out when sent off 4/1 favourite for a race at Haydock  last month; Ben Jones rode that day and he's aboard The Galloping Bear tomorrow.

The Two Amigos has run well in this race in the past and ideally wants more cut underfoot while Cyclop has a few miles on the clock but has been in good form this term finishing third in both the Southern National at Fontwell and the Scottish Borders National at  Kelso in the past six weeks.

The booking of Harry Cobden for the Irish-trained mare Regina Dracones catches the eye. She looks feasibly handicapped off 128 but appeared to just run out of petrol behind Punitive over three miles five at Fairyhouse last time.     

Gats and Co and D'Jango both race from out of the handicap.

As I highlighted in my last post, I think the Henry Daly trained Fortescue has had this as a target. 

His third behind Royal Pagaille in the Peter Marsh at Haydock at the beginning of the year reads well and although he looks quite high in the weights now pilot Hugh Nugent, whose grandfather owned and bred the horse, can claim three.

He finished second on his only run at the track in a novice chase three years ago and, admittedly in receipt of weight, has twice beaten favourite Quick Wave - at Exeter (March 2020) and Sandown (March 2021).

Fortescue looked a tad taken off his feet in rear in the early stages of the Becher last time before staying on to claim fourth - I'm hoping the fitting of first-time cheekpieces will help him hold a better pitch in this race.

Fortescue is the each-way suggestion, 14/1 with Sky Bet who are paying one fifth the odds seven places. 


TW said...

Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase

It looks like the rain will start in earnest at around 11:00 and then fall continuously until post time; so probably fair to expect some easing in the going description before the off.

The systems’ predicted finishing order [based on good to soft ground] is:


Foretescue scores well on the system and any easing of the ground should not be against him, the one question mark the system raises relates to this extended trip.

At much bigger odds my EW play will be Cyclop, the old boy simply ticks all of the required boxes when many others do not, Tony Calvin makes the case for the Cyclop in his Betfair column and I’ve nothing really to add to that. Given his age/exposure he is an unlikely winner but 10/1 five places still looks a decent bet. [50/1 EW 5 Places].

Good luck


GeeDee said...

Thanks for providing your ratings, TW.

Good luck!

GeeDee said...

The forecast rain duly arrived; the going was changed to soft after the maiden hurdle at 12.30.

Unfortunately first-time cheekpieces failed to help Fortescue (16/1) hold a better pitch in this race. The game looked up after the first fence as the selection raced at the rear of the field with only Ask Me Early behind.

He struggled on the final circuit and was eventually pulled up before five from home; just seven of the 17 starters completed.

Five of the seven finishers raced up with the pace from the off, with eventual winner The Two Amigos (16/1) leading for much of the way.

He was headed briefly by top weight The Big Dog (11/2) three from home but, in receipt of the best part of two stones, regained the initiative and had enough in reserve to repel the late challenge of The Big Breakaway (12/1). Six and a quarter lengths separated the first three home.

Truckers Lodge (12/1) was 22 lengths behind The Big Dog in fourth with Movethechains (16/1) fifth, Wouldubewell (28/1) sixth and Musical Slave (25/1) seventh.