This lightly-raced eight-year-old looks to have the ideal credentials for the Chepstow marathon.
It generally pays to back a less exposed type in the Coral endorsed Welsh Grand National run at Chepstow on December 27 and some form at the track is another positive.
No horse older than eight has triumphed in the last ten renewals and the majority (7/10) had no more than ten runs over fences on the clock, while six of the winners had won at the track previously. So, while it’s tempting to side with one of the older brigade who has been round here before, I’m going to put a line through any horse aged nine or older. That’s dangerous I know as I’m ruling out the likes of 2013 winner Mountainous, who is well handicapped again, and strong stayer Midnight Prayer, who shaped well in his Newbury return, but the youngsters are very well represented this time.
Four possibles who all fit the bill ran in the 3m3f Handicap Chase run at the Cheltenham Paddy Power promoted meeting where Sausolito Sunrise ran out a length and a quarter winner from Upswing, with Knockanrawley and Cogry close up in third and fourth. That was just about the best staying chase run this season so far and the form looks strong. The winner is not suited to mud, though, and that’s almost a given on Welsh National day. The Jonjo O’Neill-trained runner-up on the other hand has won on heavy and is almost still improving at the age of seven and having had just four starts over fences.
The concern with him is his lack of Chepstow form, whereas the Cheltenham fourth Cogry has won at the track and is another with his best days ahead of him at the age of six. He appeals most of the quartet off what looks a fair mark and it’s easy to see why he’s disputing favouritism with Upswing, with most bookmakers bracketing the pair at 10/1. But as far as ante post bet goes he makes limited appeal as he won’t be much shorter on the day and it would be silly to risk your money when something could go wrong in the meantime.
The same can be said for the Tom Symonds-trained KAKI DE LA PREE, though he’s a slightly more appealing 14/1 and I’ve been thinking for a while that he’s an ideal sort for this race – so I’m going to suggest you have a bit on now with the view to going in again on the day.
The winner of his sole Irish point-to-point start, the eight-year-old has some eye-catching hurdles form to his name, in particular his defeat of subsequent Grand National winner Pineau De Re at Carlisle on soft ground and a length second to the high-class King’s Palace at Fontwell, but it’s his maiden hurdle success at Chepstow on heavy ground that is perhaps most relevant here.
He’s failed to get his get his head in front in four starts over fences so far but has run well on each occasion, filling the runner-up spot three times. One of those came in a Grade 2 at Wetherby where he found the smart Ned Stark a quarter of a length too good and he was only beaten a length by the promising Run Ructions Run when returned to that track on his reappearance last month. Both times he gave the distinct impression that he was crying out for a much stiffer test of stamina and he will line up at Chepstow as one of the better handicapped runners, having been allotted 10st 1lb in the provisional weights.
Of the rest, last year’s winner Emperor’s Choice has to come into the reckoning, though he could have done without a 6lb rise for winning at Haydock last month. Paul Nicholls has won the race twice in the last 11 years, along with sending out several placed horses, and Black Thunder looks the pick of his entries. He has been competing against the best and was in the process of running a big race behind Sausolito Sunrise at Cheltenham when making a horrendous blunder. That was uncharacteristic and this strong stayer could well have a big say on the day, though he will be giving selection lumps of weight.
Kaki De La Pree each-way @ 14/1 Ladbrokes