Mountainous Effort Required For Welsh National
22 Fences and 29 furlongs of what may well be some of the soggiest turf run on all season means that the there will be no place to hide in the Welsh National (13:45 Chepstow) and only tough mud-loving sloggers need apply.
7 of the last 10 winners have carried 10-8 or less, and only the high-class Synchronised (went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup), Halcon Generladais and Notre Pere have carried more than that, though even they only carried 11-0 to 11-6.
So let’s take a look at the runners and riders.
Black Thunder 20/1
Won twice over hurdles here, and looks on a tasty mark of 145 taking into account Harry Cobden’s claim. Still got plenty of weight to carry though, and stable form remains a worry.
Shotgun Paddy 12/1
Twice a course winner, but was pulled-up in last year’s race when running off a 4lb higher mark. Back to last winning mark now, but big-weight and stable form a concern.
Masters Hill 25/1
Hails from another stable struggling for winners, and has to prove he stays this far. Course winner though.
Beaten twice here off lower marks. Tough ask.
Emperors Choice 12/1
Last year’s winner has won again since over a similar trip and on similar ground, but now 10lb higher than last year, and has to carry 11-1.
Looks to have been laid out for race by connections who won it with Synchronised, but stable not in peak form.
Won only chase here off 128 (now 137), and distance and ground should prove ideal. Prone to a bad mistake or two though. Just fits into ideal weight bracket with jockey’s 3lb claim.
Bob Ford 16/1
Twice a course winner, but never looked up to this class.
Red Devils Lad 16/1
Stamina not proven, but promises to stay, and is improving all the time. Top Irish jockey booked for local trainer who has tried in vain to win this big race before. A couple of pounds higher than ideal.
Firebird Flyer 25/1
Will like the ground, but needs to improve to take this. Unlikely.
Portrait King 33/1
Still above last winning mark, and looks exposed.
Bertie Boru 22/1
Well-beaten all 3 course starts and still 3lb above last winning mark.
Return Spring 20/1
Really well-handicapped on hurdles form, but prone to jumping errors and would prefer better ground.
The 2013 Champion couldn’t defend his crown last year, but returns now on the same mark he won off. Ideally weighted again, and should go close for his very in-form trainer.
8lb higher than for last win, and 5lb higher than when beaten in a course handicap.
Tour Des Champs 14/1
Fourth in the 2013 Scottish Grand National, and won here last time off a mark of 126. rated 130 today and has a chance.
Woodford County 16/1
Seemed not to stay last year, but has won over further since. Ciaran Gethings has won twice on him off a lower mark in a lower grade.
Allez Vic 33/1
A big jump in class, and has to prove stamina.
Never won above class-4, and hard to see him changing that here.
Chase The Spud 40/1
Only won a class-3, and a big ask for in-form trainer, even off bottom weight.
You have to go back to 1989 to find the last horse to win this race twice, but Mountainous really does have everything in his favour, and looks worth an each-way punt.
Mountainous each-way @ 9/1 (Paddy Power, Betvictor)