Let’s hope the rescheduled meeting of the Welsh Grand National goes ahead on Saturday having been called off just after Christmas.
Secret Reprieve absolutely hosed-up to win the Trial for this race back in early December. He comes into this carrying a 4lbs penalty, but is actually 8lbs well-in on his revised mark. That could make him hard to beat. But his odds are way too short at 7/2 for a race of this nature and he’s still inexperienced as a chaser depsite putting in that hugely improved performance.
The lack of experience was a negative used to rule-out TRUCKERS LODGE last season in this very race. He defied that to run an asbolute blinder when finishing second by less than two lengths to Potters Corner.
After that race Truckers Lodge won the Midlands Grand National (4m 2f) by 14l which has increased his mark to 155 making him 16lbs higher than his run last year. That is a big rise in handicap, however he looks completely deserving of it and after six chase starts he still more than likely has potential over his optimum conditions.
His seasonal reappearance at Kelso can be forgiven as the ground was on the quick side and he generally improves quite a lot for his first run. Truckers Lodge is also a course specialist and over both codes he his form figures read 112412 at the track with two of his three wins on heavy ground. 10/1 feels a little on the generous side for a proven chaser in this race.
At the other end of the weights, I’m going to take a chance on CALIPSO COLLONGES for Olly Murphy. He carries 10 stone and with Jack Tuder – last year’s winning jockey – claiming 3lbs he has a featherweight on his back around the testing Chepstow conditions.
An improver when joining Olly Murphy’s yard from Ireland, Calipso Collonges racked up a four-timer for his new handler in 2018 over hurdles. He has been sparingly raced over the larger fences with just 10 chase starts at the age of nine.
His last two starts spaced almost a year apart look most interesting with firstly a second place in the Tommy Whittle at Haydock (3m 2f, heavy) in December 2019 finishing behind Lord Du Mesnil who reopposes 22lbs worse-off at the weights.
Calipso Collonges travelled and jumped nicely into the race on his reappearance last month to finish fourth in the Becher Chase (3m 2f, soft) over the Grand National fences. He looked to be travelling extremely well and was close two-out. But he just didn’t quite have the pace or perhaps the match fitness to go with Vieux Lion Rouge when he kicked after an attritional race.
Calipso Collonges should be spot on now after a month’s break and he can easily outrun his odds. It’s also telling that he wasn’t entered in the race scheduled before Christmas, but he has been here.
A negative against him is that he has not run at the track before as most Welsh National winners usually have, but at 25/1, I’m prepared to take a chance.
1pt each-way Truckers Lodge @10/1, 15:10 Chepstow, Saturday (1-6 places, 1/5 odds with Skybet)
1pt each-way Calipso Collonges @25/1, 15:10 Chepstow, Saturday (1-6 places, 1/5 odds with Skybet)