Who will win the Coral Welsh National?
It generally pays to back a less exposed type in the Coral Welsh Grand National invariably run on heavy ground at Chepstow on December 27 and some form at the track is another major positive.
UPDATE – the race fell foul of the weather / heavy ground on it’s traditional post-Christmas slot and has been rescheduled for Saturday 9th January. The original selections stand.
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. By applying those stats we can cut the field down to a more manageable size and even some of more fancied runners can be ruled out. They include last year’s winner Emperor’s Choice and the 2013 winner Mountainous, who are sure to be popular with each-way backers, as will Alan King-trained Midnight Prayer, who is disputing favouritism. It’s easy to see as the ten-year-old is an out-and-stayer who won the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival in March and is proven in the conditions. However, no fewer than 49 horses aged ten or older have been beaten in the race since 2004.
The younger brigade – six to eight-year-olds – are well represented this time round and the one that makes most appeal is the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained COGRY, who is the joint-youngest in the race at six with just seven chase starts under his belt, winning twice. Crucially, one of those came over fences at last year’s Welsh National meeting run on heavy ground and he’s most likely had this race as his target since. His trainer knows what it takes to win it having sent out Earth Summit and Bindaree to score and the selection looks very much in the same mould as those subsequent Grand National heroes.
After winning here last December he ran four more times, winning again at Warwick in February (heavy ground) and running well to finish sixth in the Cheltenham race won by Midnight Prayer. On his final start in the Scottish Grand National, he was bang in contention when falling four out on ground that was faster than ideal. He reappeared this season in a highly competitive handicap run at Cheltenham’s Paddy Power meeting and, while in need of the run after a seven-month absence, he jumped well and stayed on nicely into fourth less than a length behind the reopposing runner-up Upswing. That horse looks a big threat and is feared most, but Cogry’s course victory earns him the vote.
You can make a case for several others and in a race of this nature it doesn’t harm for punters to have a second string to their bow, so I’m going to also put up the Rebecca Curtis-trained BOB FORD at an each-way price. The eight-year-old hasn’t been the most consistent of horses in the past but he invariably goes well at Chepstow (won twice), stays all day and loves it when the mud is flying. His stable has emerged from a quiet spell in the last week or so and his rider Sean Bowen gets a goods tune out him, steering him to an 11-length success at Ffos Las earlier this month.