3m6½f Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4yo+)
The Welsh National features four previous winners with the young, progressive, Secret Reprieve set to go off favourite for this twelve months on. He could join an elite group of consecutive winners and being only 6lbs higher, it would be hard to say he had anything other than a favourite’s chance. But he’s no value at odds of 4/1, and without a run this season – normally a negative for this race – he can be opposed.
MIGHTY THUNDER has seemed to get better and better with each chase start. Still only 8 and with just the 7 chase starts, Mighty Thunder won the Scottish Grand National on his penultimate start of last season, off a 6lbs lower mark. This was after putting in a brilliant performance in the Midlands National, showing himself to be a true stayer, but also an excellent traveller when just getting chinned on the line by a progressive sort in Time To Get Up over 4m 2f.
Mighty Thunder has thrived in staying contests and is still conceivably on the upgrade having proven his versatility over quick and slow ground. He warmed up nicely for this race with a plugging-on fourth in the Charlie Hall Chase Grade 2 over a shorter trip of three miles a few weeks ago.
The step back up in trip and test of stamina will most certainly suit and he looks good value at 14/1 to run a big race again in another National.
I also fancy Potters Corner to run a big one having looked more like himself last time out in the Cross Country. He is actually 5lbs lower than when he won this in 2019, but is 8lbs out-of-the-handicap on account of Native River racing off what will be an extremely tough mark of 166.
Another who is seemingly on the upgrade must be HIGHLAND HUNTER for Paul Nicholls and he looks overpriced for this at 10/1 now.
He has also had a brilliant preparation, winning the London National Handicap Chase at Sandown, when not being well-fancied on ground probably quicker than ideal. He travelled like a class horse and stayed on strongly to defeat the reopposing Deise Alba (inconsistent away from Sandown), now on 4lbs worse terms. Highland Hunter is entitled to improve for that run and carries a nice racing weight of 10st 9lbs despite the penalty.
Highland Hunter has also got the all important previous run at Chepstow and although is shown an “F” next to it, that was a final fence fall when making some inroads into a lead held by Ask Me Early and the well-fancied Hold That Thought. Highland Hunter’s Midlands National fifth over 4m 2f may just offer the most encouragement as he travelled prominently and now faces our other selection off much better terms. He remains unexposed at marathon trips and can go well in these conditions.
1pt each-way Highland Hunter @10/1, 14:50 Chepstow, Monday (1-7 places, 1/5 odds with several bookmakers)
Mighty Thunder @14/1, 14:50 Chepstow, Monday (1-7 places, 1/5 odds with several bookmakers)