The racing broadcaster previews the Welsh Grand National and picks out five tips for Wednesday's racing.
Boxing Day will be a tough act to follow after the drama of Hewick’s King George win, the breathtaking fencing of Il Est Francais in the Kauto Star and the oozing quality of Constitution Hill in the Christmas hurdle.
WELSH GRAND NATIONAL
With plenty of rain forecast, overnight conditions could also ease quite markedly, especially at Chepstow for the feature jumps race of their season – the Welsh National. It is always a race that has held a special place in my personal affections as it was the first major race I called back in my first year in 1992, when Martin Pipe saddled the first four home as part of a five timer at the Welsh track.
Iwilldoit will make a bold bid to follow up last year’s victory and is very much proven in the mud but off a 17lb higher mark he may be vulnerable to AUTONOMOUS CLOUD 13/2 (14:50 Chepstow), whose defeat of Iron Bridge and Super Survivor at Uttoxeter looks a key line of form. Iron Bridge is also a major contender but seemed to take little interest last time over a shorter trip at Newbury, so the vote goes to Fergal O’Brien’s charge. Getting into a nice jumping rhythm close to the pace is an advantage in a race where it can be quite difficult to make up ground.
Two horses that have featured in our stable tracker this season are also given another chance starting with BELLS OF PETERBORO 5/1 (13:40 Chepstow), who goes well at the track and was second in the race last year having also won it in 2021. Both of those runs were off higher marks and, even though he saves a little bit for himself these days, the application of a visor could help rekindle a fire which could well still burn bright enough to land the spoils again.
INSANITY 10/1 (13:20 Kempton) was a bitter disappointment on his hurdling debut at Market Rasen, especially as he jumped soundly but could not pick up after the second last. The shape of this race with a short-priced favourite in Nicky Henderson’s French import Sir Gino makes an each-way bet look attractive, and Insanity is worth another chance on what hopefully will still be better ground.
Up at Wetherby GUNSIGHT RIDGE 9/4 (14:45 Wetherby) in the Rowland Mayrick can continue the good run of trainer Olly Murphy who had winners at several meetings on Boxing Day. He looks likely to get a perfect lead into this courtesy of the front running Escapeandevade and has the assistance of Sean Bowen who has a very good record at the track (see Jockeys For Courses below).
JOCKEYS FOR COURSES
This continues to be the in-form part of the blog with four of the five riders highlighted yesterday riding winners. Emma Smith-Chaston was the pick with a 35-1 double with Fergus Gregory (6-1), Jack Mitchell (5-2) and Ben Godfrey (2-1) others on the mark. Looking to continue in the same vein with:
- Wetherby – Sean Bowen (12/52 with an actual/expected ratio of 1.65)
- Wolverhampton – Gina Mangan (14/142, A/E 1.72)
- Limerick – Adrian Heskin (21/181, A/E 1.41)
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
THE NAIL GUNNER 11/1 (17:30 Wolverhampton) is an interesting runner on his first start for trainer Des Donovan. He looks well treated off a mark of just 60 and, in a race with not much pace, can dictate from his inside gate. Trevor Whelan rides the course well and he looks an interesting runner away from the main action.
INSANITY (E/W) 10/1 (Kempton, 13.20)
BELLS OF PETERBORO 5/1 (Chepstow, 13.40)
GUNSIGHT RIDGE 9/4 (Wetherby, 14:45)
AUTONOMOUS CLOUD 13/2 (Chepstow, 14:50)
THE NAIL GUNNER 11/1 (Wolverhampton, 17:30)