1pt win Now McGinty @11/2, 1pt each-way Potters Corner @15/2, 14:50 Friday, Chepstow, Welsh Grand National

3m6½f Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1)

The complexion of this race changed materially over the last week with Colin Tizzard deciding that former champion, Native River, will have just one more run before another tilt at the Gold Cup in March. This therefore doesn’t appear to be the deepest renewal.

With Native River’s defection, Elegant Escape will carry top-weight of 11st 12lbs instead officially 9lbs higher than his winning mark last season. He technically only carries 4lbs extra in his saddle and his staying on third in the Ladbrokes Trophy suggests he is bang in-form for another tilt at this so the bookies are taking no chances with him at current odds of 7/2.

That price feels very short with several unexposed looking chasers in this year’s renewal and he could be vulnerable to an improver over this gruesome test.

It certainly pays to side with horses with proven course form with 10/12 winners having at least 1 previous run at Chepstow and 7/12 winners had at least 1 previous win.

Although he has been fairly well-found in the market, second favourite, NOW MCGINTY looks to be the right type to claim a Welsh National. He already holds plenty of solid form on this undulating track including a thrashing to Ladbrokes Trophy winner De Rasher Counter in a Novice Chase last season.

The Stuart Edmonds inmate put in a huge run on his seasonal reappearance to go down by a short-head to Santini who is rated in the 160’s. It feels like Now McGinty got away pretty lightly by only going up 3lbs to 147 off the back of that run. The fact Now McGinty was only getting 6lbs from a horse rated over a stone better than him means he could still be about half a stone well-in if taking that form literally.

Now McGinty has already proven on several occassions that he has plenty of stamina and that he loves the mud, however this is still a distance that he has not encountered before.

His chasing record is very solid with defeats generally only coming behind fairly classy performers and he remains open to plenty of improvement. The slight doubt about his stamina suggests a win bet only.

Truckers Lodge has also come in for heavy support for Paul Nicholls backers. He surely hasn’t achieved enough to be trading at the price he is currently, despite obvious claims that he will be better than this curent mark.

At big prices, both Prime Venture and Captain Chaos are entitled to do well. But it’s almost impossible to think that POTTERS CORNER won’t be there or thereabouts when others have cried enough, if he gets round.

Other than Elegant Escape, Potters Corner is the only other horse in here with true dour-staying credentials. A winner of the Midlands Grand National over 4m 2f on heavy ground, Potters Corner will have no problem with this trip and has been aimed at this since he claimed the marathon at Uttoxeter back in March.

Christian Williams would love to win this on home soil and he has prepared his inmate with four hurdles performances to preserve his mark over the last six months. His final start was a hurdles success over three miles around this track about three weeks ago where he travelled brilliantly and that should have put him spot on for this as he didn’t have a tough race.

The main concern with Potters Corner is whether his Midlands National run has blown his mark at 145 as he stayed on past Ms. Parfois on that occassion. But he remains relatively lightly-raced as a chaser and has the benefit of a 7lbs claimer on board to help his cause.

If he jumps well, then he should be a solid each-way player in this.

1pt win Now McGinty @11/2, 14:50 Friday, Chepstow, Welsh Grand National
1pt each-way Potters Corner @15/2, 14:50 Friday, Chepstow, Welsh Grand National (1-5 places, 1/5 odds with several bookmakers)

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