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Chepstow hosts the Welsh Grand National, a race which historically produces high calibre winners who go on for a tilt at the Grand National in April.  Horses such as Corbiere, Earth Summit, Bindaree and Silver Birch all won the Welsh National before going on to secure the Grand National as well.  In addition, this race can also be used as a stepping stone to the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Burrough Hill Lad, Cool Ground, Master Oats and most recently Synchronised all doing the Welsh National/Gold Cup double.  An important event in its own right here are the key race trends!

 

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Trends:

10 out of the last 10 winners had won no more than two handicap chase’s previously

10 out of the last 10 winners had winning form over 3m or further

10 out of the last 10 winners had run within the last 55 days

9 out of the last 10 winners finished in first 4 last time out

8 out of the last 10 winners were aged between 6 & 8

8 out of the last 10 winners carried 11st or less

7 out of the last 10 winners were sent off at odds of 10/1 or lower

 

As you would imagine with such a testing hnadicap chase, the race is normally a hot betting heat and this year looks no different with Well Refreshed, Goonyella and Highland Lodge leading the markets. Well Refreshed (8/1 BetVictor) represents the in-form Gary Moore and looks a nice type after running well in the London National at Sandown last time.  However; because of that, he has rapidly risen in the weights and for me the handicapper has his measure.  When you also add in the fact that he is aged 9, the trends show that he faces a tough task to win.  Goonyella (8/1 Coral) looks like the main Irish raider and the form he should when beating Vesper Bell at Punchestown emphasisses his ability to stay; however, the trends are against the horse as he hasn’t done well of late.  Highland Lodge (10/1 Betfred) is one of the only 6 who meets all the trends (bar his current odds) and could be a very tempting betting proposition if returning to the form he showed when beating Our Father by 22 lengths at Cheltenham 12 months ago.  Since then though, despite one good run at Wincanton the horse has been struggling and I don’t see him returning to form here. 

Tidal Bay (10/1 Betfred) and Teaforthree (16/1 BetVictor) are the two big guns in the field and the ever present Tidal Bay continues to perform well at the top level.  If this was a race off level weights then Tidal Bay would have a cracking chance but having to carry 11st12lb in a 3m5f slog might just be too much for this 12yo.  At the other end of the scale Teaforthree continues to impress.  The horse was 2nd here last year and 3rd in the Aintree national too and that is the best long distance form on offer in the race.  The negatives for Rebecca Curtis’ charge are his age and the fact that he has a 10lb rise to contend with compared to last year.

David Pipe enters three runners in the form of Goulanes (18/1 Coral), Amigo (22/1 BetVictor) and Ace High (25/1 bet365).  Goulanes is arguably the most talented and the choice of stable jockey Tom Scudamore.  This horse was a leading player last year as a novice chaser but really struggled on reappearance at Cheltenham and is going to need a better show to win here. 

Merry King (10/1 Betfred) has also been a feature in the big handicap chases but hasn’t won higher than a Class 4 race so is ruled out.  So is Wyck Hill (25/1 Coral) who has struggled as of late. 

Of the others, a couple meet the trends at bigger prices: Red Rocco (28/1 BetVictor) and Mountanious (16/1 Coral), both have good form in the book but to win the race from out of the handicap is a very difficult task.  With that in mind, I'm left with four – Highland Lodge, Hawkes Point, Knock A Hand and Vintage Star.  The trio of Highland Lodge, Hawkes Point (12/1 Coral) and Knock A Hand (22/1 BetVictor) have all been struggling to perform to their best of late and that leaves us with VINTAGE STAR (14/1 bet365).  The trainer and jockey combination who won last year’s Grand National with Aurora’s Encore look to have another potential National winner here with Vintage Star.  He is a rapidly improving type who was even thought good enough to run in the RSA last term.  He beat a nice type in Buddy Bolero and was unlucky not to catch Hey Big Spender at Newcastle.  The horse meets the trends, has a nice weight and the step up in trip is likely to suit.

Despite being a wide open renewal, there can be a few holes picked in the market leaders and it would be wise to keep Teaforthree, Hey Big Spender and the selection VINTAGE STAR on side.  However, I think this year could be made even sweeter for Sue Smith and connections with Vintage Star winning the Welsh Grand National. 

 

Selection – 

VINTAGE STAR (WIN) (14/1 bet365)

 

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