There are lots of persuasive statistics attached to the Welsh Grand National however, with lots of classy horses towards the top-of-the-weights, and a bottom-weight of 10-10, it may be better to ignore the statistics this year and concentrate on the individual merits of the 20-runners.
The classy, improving Hennessy winner is officially 8lbs well-in, and will have no problem with the distance having been runner-up in the 2016 National Hunt Chase – but the last horse to carry top-weight to victory was Carvill’s Hill in 1991.
The stable and the jockey both have tremendous records in the race, and the stable has hit form this week. Would ideally prefer it softer, but no surprise if he goes very close.
Viconte Du Noyer
Looked well-suited to this sort of test when winning over 27-furlongs at Cheltenham in in November, but is 6lb higher here in a better race, on quicker ground.
Houblon Des Obeaux
Always looked as though he’d be suited by a stamina test, but may well have blown his handicap chances after his Newbury win last season. Stable’s runners do often go well in this though.
Won in a slightly lower grade at Cheltenham this month, and interesting stepped up in trip, but must win off career high mark.
Must be forgiven a poor run in the Hennessey, but his two runs over staying trips have produced a win in the Scottish National and an unlucky fifth in the National Hunt Chase. Stable’s runners often go well in this.
Best served by soft ground, but always looked like he had a big staying race in him. Tough ask after a long-time off the track though.
Didn’t look to be crying out for this trip when pulled-up in last season’s Midlands National, though does have a decent overall strike-rate.
Could be well-suited by this test, and every chance on his second in the Hennessey, though not sure undulations suit quite as well as a flat-track
Looks a decent stayer in the making, but worrying that all his wins have come in small-fields on right-handed tracks.
Another decent stayer in the making, but probably wants more testing ground to be at his best.
Another who would ideally be suited by softer going, and his jumping is a worry in what is a high-class renewal.
Baie Des Iles
Connections look to have targeted this race after finishing sixth in last season’s Irish National, and the 5-year-old could still have plenty of improvement to come, especially if first-time cheek-pieces have the desired effect.
Beg To Differ
Another wearing first-time cheek-pieces, and should be suited by this test. Run poorly so far this season though, and tough to feel confident about his chances.
Won 2 of the last 3 Welsh Nationals, but a higher mark and quicker ground surely mean he won’t be notching-up a third this year.
Runner-up last year for local stable, but he usually needs heavy ground to be seen at his best, and can’t see him going one closer this year.
Down a few pound since finishing fourth in last season’s Scottish National, and also run well in the Grand National. May well outrun his odds, but likely to find at least one or two too good.
Had a long-time off and, though he’s potentially weighted to run very well, a lot must be taken on trust.
Raz De Maree
Run well in lots of staying chases, but others look to have more potential for improvement.
2014 winner of a 6lbs lower mark, and is another who wants the mud to be flying to be seen at his best.
Welsh Grand National Conclusion
Good-to-soft ground means the classier types with big-weights should be at a big advantage against the slower types for who connections would have been hoping for heavy ground, and our top-4 pick are.
2) Native River
3) Bishops Road
4) Royale Knight