The Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase takes centre stage this afternoon, with 20 horses sloshing through the mud, chasing a first prize of £85 grand.
First point to make is that most bookmakers are paying 5 places on this race (Skybet pay 6) and, if previous runnings are anything to go by, if your selection finishes, it’ll probably be placed.
At 8-1 the field, this race has an impossible look to it – panic not, however, we have it sorted.
Our first selection is the Jack Barber trained Ask The Weatherman.
(“Ah! – I get the headline” Ed.)
Available at 14-1, this multiple Point/Hunter Chase winner made its Rules debut a winning one at Exeter in November off a mark of 132. That was its first run since April, when it won an open Point over 3m4f and this out-and-out mudlover will be staying on when others have had enough. Nick Schofield retains the ride and an each way bet is recommended.
Our other pick is Bishops Road, trained by Kerry Lee, also each way at 12-1.
This 10-y-o finished sixth in this race last time and is 10lbs lower today. The difference this time is that the horse has been trained specifically with this race in mind, having had just the one run this season, when a close second in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle at the beginning of December. With today’s contest being an ‘early closer’, Bishops Road has not been raised for that run and competes here off the same mark as when winning the Haydock Grand National Trial over nearly this trip on heavy ground.
One other bet at this meeting, before we turn our attention to Sandown and that is Another Venture in the 1.00. This Kim Bailey trained 7-y-o is well in on its hurdles form, loves heavy ground and can take this Novices Handicap under Mikey Hamill.
Have a win bet at 9-4.
Most valuable race at Sandown is the final of the 32Red Veterans’ Handicap Chase series, won last year by Pete The Feat, which is back again for another go.
Favourite in all books is the Ian Williams’ trained Gas Line Boy, which would have won the Aintree leg of this series but for tipping up three from home and then made handsome amends by taking the Grand Sefton on the same course in December. On the grounds that that form looks different class, we suggest a win bet at 5-1.
Additionally we recommend an each way bet on Vino Griego at 12-1. Trained for this race by Gary Moore, twice a course winner in the past and carrying bottom weight, this (hopefully) spritely teenager has the services of Jonjo Junior and although the horse may not be a big improver, the jockey certainly is.
The 32Red Tolworth Novices Hurdle at 2.25, a grade 1 event brings together 5 of the season’s better Novices and favouritism is disputed between Western Ryder and Kalashnikov at around 2-1. These two have been allotted official ratings (146 & 139 respectively) but one runner without a rating looks the value alternative. That beast is Mont Des Avaloirs, an ex-French jobby, now with Paul Nicholls. On hurdles debut, this 5-y-o was hosing up before crashing out at the last and the horse that benefited from the minor disaster is now rated 146. Since that misfortune, Mont Des Avaloirs has cantered home in heavy ground at Aintree and, at 5-1 looks worth a bet to cause a bit of an upset.
That’s all, folks.
Ask The Weatherman 2.05 Chepstow e/w @ 14-1 Ladbrokes (5 places)
Bishops Road 2.05 Chepstow e/w @ 12-1 Coral (5 places)
Another Venture 1.00 Chepstow win @ 9-4 William Hill
Gas Line Boy 3.00 Sandown win @ 5-1 Betway
Vino Griego 3.00 Sandown e/w @ 12-1 Betfred (4 places)
Mont Des Avaloirs 2.25 Sandown win @ 5-1 10Bet