After the postponement of this race ten days ago, we remain firmly on our two previous selections. Unfortunately, their prices have since contracted having come in for support.
The Coral Welsh Grand National was privileged to have one of the top staying chasers of last season in the field with Native River proving to be far too good when racing off his Hennessy Gold Cup (now the Ladbrokes Trophy) winning handicap mark of 155.
It’s hard to see any of this years’ contestants possessing anything near that level of class and nobody looks anywhere near that well-handicapped (on paper at least!).
As a consequence it looks an even more wide-open race than recent years with the top fancies settled by just a couple of points in the betting as the contest reverts to the traditional affair, where stamina and guts should come to the fore under the forecast conditions.
Winners have generally had a run during the season so those who follow recent trends in this race religiously will have ruled out MYSTEREE from the Michael Scudamore yard – trainer of the 2012 winner Monbeg Dude – who will be making his first appearance for 294 days.
This low-mileage nine-year-old only joined the Scudamore yard during the summer of 2016, and has since run just the four times over fences, winning twice, including a 3m 4f win on heavy going on his first start when beating Chase The Spud, and an Eider Chase success at Newcastle (4m 1f, soft-hvy) in February underlining his credentials for these long distance affairs.
Mysteree did pull-up in the Sussex National at Plumpton earlier in January when something must have been clearly amiss given that is the only time he has failed to finish a race.
His most recent run was back in March where he just failed to win the Midlands Grand National (4m 1f, sft) from the re-opposing Chase The Spud – heavily backed for this race having won well on his last start – who is now a whopping 13lbs worse-off with Mysteree.
Mysteree’s form figures after a break of more than 150 days reads 111 so the absence should not inconvenience him in the slightest. Indeed his trainer remarked that they haven’t been able to find the right opportunity to bring him back. Instead he has preserved his handicap mark allowing him to get in off 138 (with a racing weight of 10st 13lbs) which could prove vital against the higher-weighted chasers in what is shaping up to be a gruelling event.
Mysteree has already proven that he is the typical gutsy stayer needed for a race like the Welsh National, and although he is yet to run at this track (which is a negative and against recent trends), this contest should suit him down to the ground and it may be a masterstroke that he was pulled out of a race at Cheltenham a few weeks ago.
If Mysteree is arguably a tip to buck a couple of recent trends, then WILD WEST WIND ticks almost every box a Welsh National winner over the last twenty years could possibly ever tick.
A winner of the Welsh Grand National Trial on his reappearance run, he should be coming in to this race in peak condition. The margin of that victory was modest (only a couple of lengths), but just as Native River did last year in the main event, Wild West Wind had approximately ten lengths in hand as he ran to the final three fences and he actually showed a decent turn-of-foot to kick away from his rivals despite the bottomless conditions.
He did eventually idle in front, and could have been vulnerable to the dour stayers in behind, but he responded when pressed by Ciaran Gethings, who retains the ride, and was firmly in command at the finish.
That form has a relatively solid look to it with Alfie Spinner and the re-opposing Milansbar being decent yardsticks. Wild West Wind is officially 1lb well-in as he races with just the 4lb penalty for that win, and will benefit from his jockey taking a handy 3lbs off with his claim.
Wild West Wind remains unexposed over fences at the age of eight having picked up two win from his first three starts under the larger obstacles last season. He made virtually all under an aggressive ride to defeat the subsequent BetBright Chase winner Pilgrim’s Bay by twelve lengths on his first chase start at Exeter in January of this year.
Then on his next start he stayed on strongly to defeat The Bay Oak – who then went on to defeat recent chase winner Cogry by 4l in the West Wales National – when giving him 7lbs at Hereford to win over 3m 1f on heavy ground. Wild West Wind’s only chase defeat came 17 days later off a mark of 138 at the hands of former Grade 2 Novice hurdler Label Des Obeaux (who is now rated in the mid-150’s over fences) where the ground was probably a little quicker than ideal.
A strict line through that form has him weighted to beat both Beware The Bear and Final Nudge who were beaten by Label Des Obeaux at Ayr last April.
The pace of a Welsh National should suit Wild West Wind who has been targeted at this race for the best part of a year. With his prominent racing style and two wins from three starts around this undulating track, it’s hard to think he wont be thereabouts at the finish.
There are several others worth a mention and in particular I wouldn’t put you off having an each-way flutter on the unexposed and former Foxhunter’s racer, Ask The Weatherman albeit his form is difficult to get a read on. Bishops Road could also go much better in this race this year if his jumping holds up from a ten pound lower mark.
0.75pts each-way Mysteree @8/1, 14:50 Chepstow, Wednesday (1,2,3,4,5,6 places pay 1/5 odds with Skybet)
0.75pts each-way Wild West Wind @9/1, 14:50 Chepstow, Wednesday (1,2,3,4,5 places pay 1/5 odds with Boylesports)