Welsh Grand National Preview – Wednesday 27th December
Last updated: December 26, 2017 by Leon Marshal
The big betting race at Chepstow on Saturday is the Grade 3 Welsh Grand National over three and three-quarter miles.
The Welsh National is one of the most gruelling handicap chases of the season. Conditions are usually extremely testing and the emphasis is on stamina. The race has been won by some top class chasers in the past. Burrough Hill Lad (1983), Cool Ground (1990), Master Oats (1994) and Synchronised (2010) all went on to the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The race has also produced Grand National winners Earth Summit (1997), Bindaree (2003) and Silver Birch (2004).
Native River defied top weight of 11st 12lbs last year to win for Colin Tizzard. That matched the weight-carrying victory of Carvill’s Hill back in 1991. It was only the third time in the last twenty years that more than 10st 13lbs had been carried to victory. The Lee family have a good recent record in the Welsh National. Richard Lee won with Le Beau Bai (2011) and Mountainous (2013). His daughter Kerry then trained the latter to win again in 2015.
Henderson seeking first Welsh National victory
This remains one of the few top National Hunt prizes to elude trainer Nicky Henderson. He has the ante-post favourite this year in Beware The Bear. The seven-year-old is set to carry a 4lbs penalty for his recent win at Newcastle in soft ground. His ability to stay this distance in testing conditions is a slight concern. He was beaten nearly thirty lengths in the four-mile National Hunt chase at Cheltenham in March.
Henderson could also run Sugar Baron, a running-on second in first-time blinkers in the London National at Sandown. He has only won once in eight starts over fences but this stamina test could suit the seven-year-old.
Chase The Spud is on a hat-trick for Fergal O’Brien after victories at Uttoxeter and Haydock. He beat Mysteree by a length and a half to win the Midlands National in soft ground. A comfortable win on his reappearance in heavy ground at Haydock augurs well for his prospects at Chepstow. The handicapper has put him up 9lbs but he should still be competitive.
Mysteree side-steps Cheltenham prep race
Mysteree is set to renew rivalry with Chase The Spud after missing his intended reappearance at Cheltenham. Michael Scudamore withdrew the nine-year-old because of the soft ground that day, possibly fearing that it would damage his prospects at Chepstow. He certainly was not inconvenienced by the testing conditions in the Midlands National and he is almost a stone better off with the winner.
Philip Hobbs won the race with Dream Alliance back in 2009. He is set to run Rock The Kasbah, a seven-year-old gelding by Shirocco. He won at Chepstow over three miles in October and was a close sixth in the Bet365 Gold Cup back in April.
Kerry Lee bids for her second win in the race with Bishops Road. The nine-year-old won the Grand National Trial at Haydock in heavy ground in 2016. He did not get into the big race but unseated his rider when contesting the Topham Chase. Bishops Road ran his best race since when second to Beware The Bear at Newcastle. He ran here last year but finished a remote tenth.
Final Nudge still on a winning mark
Final Nudge was only beaten a head by Present Man on his most recent outing at Wincanton. He was still in contention when falling four from home in the Midlands National and also enjoys a big pull in the weights with the winner. The first two pulled well clear at Wincanton and he still looks to be on a winning handicap mark.
Ask The Weatherman is an eight-year-old gelding trained by Jack Barber. He won a Hunter Chase at Wincanton last season before finishing seventh in the Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase. The son of Tamure won narrowly at Exeter last month but this looks a much stiffer test.
Two-time Scottish National winner Vicente also ran a fine race last time when second to Perfect Candidate at Cheltenham. That was his first run since scoring for the second time at Ayr in April. He ran in this race last year but faded to finish sixth.
Welsh Grand National Betting Tips
Mysteree @14-1 Ladbrokes
Final Nudge @14-1
Chase The Spud @12-1
Each-way ¼ odds, 1,2,3,4
The Welsh Grand National is due off at 2.05 on Saturday 6th January and will be televised live on ITV4.