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Welsh Grand National Preview – Who Will Come Out On Top In The Chepstow Feature?

The Welsh Grand National is the first of the big four staying nationals run Great Britain and Ireland during the jumps season. It is a race with an intrinsic link to gutsy stayers, including Grand National winners Corbiere, Bindaree and Silver Birch, classy Festival heroes in Gold Cup victors Synchronised and Native River, and even birthed a Hollywood film courtesy of Dream Alliance’s success in 2010.

Joe Napier previews the big handicap of the festive season in a wide open field of 20.

The Two Amigos presented David Prichard with his biggest day in the saddle when scoring in last year’s renewal.

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Last year’s renewal saw THE TWO AMIGOS put in a battling display to run out a deserved winner under a fine David Prichard ride:


  • Eight of the last ten winners have carried less than 11 stone
  • The last three winners have carried either 10-1, or 10-0
  • Three claimers have won this race in the last sic years, showing the value of taking off a few pounds
  • Three favourites have won in the last decade, though all were 3/1 or shorter (current 5/1 market leader at time of writing)
  • Seven of the last ten winners have been aged 9 or below – experience and age are not a requirement

Key Runners

SUPER SURVIVOR

(Jamie Snowden/Gavin Sheehan)

Jamie Snowden enjoyed his best day as a trainer when Datsalrightgino won the Coral Gold Cup a few weeks ago and could claim a second big handicap in December with Super Survivor boasting good credentials. Gavin Sheehan takes the ride as the man in form, having ridden the Coral Gold Cup hero for Snowden, as well as Hewick in the King George.

Super Survivor won on the Welsh National card a year ago, taking a novice handicap in clear-cut fashion. He has since been campaigned lightly, but shapes as if a stamina test will suit, with his runner-up finishing over just shy of 3m at Lingfield last time demonstrating his application for a finish. This will have been the aim, and his course run last season is an appealing piece of form, but both efforts since on form alone would give him enough to find in this much deeper contest.


NASSALAM

(Gary Moore/Caolin Quinn)

While Sandown was taking centre stage with the Fighting Fifth and Tingle Creek, Nassalam was bolting up in the Welsh National Trial for Gary Moore at this venue. As a result, he is 4lb well-in, with just a 4lb penalty to show for that victory instead of the official 8lb he will soon receive.

He was extremely impressive that day, including with his jumping up the home stretch, and the softer the ground is at Chepstow the better. As yet, it may not prove quite tender enough underfoot, while 3m in the past has stretched his stamina. He may be more assured in that department now, but this is a tough race in which to prove he can now get a trip.


AUTONOMOUS CLOUD

(Fergal O’Brien/Paddy Brennan)

In eight races over obstacles, Fergal O’Brien’s seven-year-old has made the frame in all eight. At first plagues by third and then seconditis, he has recently come good over fences, concluding his novice chasing season with a gutsy success at Uttoxeter in a race won by some good horses in the past.

Super Survivor was 17 lengths behind him that day, so while the pair meet on 11lb different terms today, Autonomous Cloud is still favoured by their respective marks. A 5lb penalty for his most recent win, again at Uttoxeter, should not prove too tough, though at the prices, and in this lineup, it would be preferable had he proved his constitution for courses elsewhere.


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IWILLDOIT

(Sam Thomas/Dylan Johnston)

The only former winner in the field, Sam Thomas’s veteran is not seen regularly on a racecourse. However, when he is, he is usually involved, with four wins from his remarkably small tally of six chase starts, which included a cosy success in this race two years ago.

Thomas turns to 7lb claimer Dylan Johnston for the ride, and that is now bad thing given claimers have a good recent record in the race. Iwilldoit won off a 383-day absence in Warwick’s Classic Chase last season, another Grade 3 handicap, and his follow up fifth in the Midlands National off 12 stone was not aided by a late jumping mistake. His return over hurdles was very encouraging, and he looks extremely likely to be on the premises again.


Rest Of The Field

The field looks to have significant depth in this year’s Welsh National. Complete Unknown is on a retrieval mission after disappointing as favourite in the Coral Gold Cup, but he retains untapped potential, and could enjoy this staying test.

Doughty stayers such as The Big Breakaway, Truckers Lodge and The Galloping Bear also line up, with the first named forgiven his poor run at Aintree and expected to go close off 1lb lower than when second a year ago. Truckers Lodge is now weighted to the hilt off the same mark as when fourth in 2022, though The Galloping Bear is another who does not race regularly, but is on a very plausible mark on his best day.

One who is worth checking out at massive odds is Domaine De L’Isle. The ten-year0old is 10lb out of the weights and has been pulled up on both starts this season, but won readily over course and distance in March on soft ground. A deep stamina test probably suits him, so he is no forlorn hope to make the frame.


Big-Race Verdict

He cannot be the easiest to train as a ten-year-old with only six chase starts to his name, but when IWILLDOIT shows up, he is usually in it to win it. A mark of 153 is 13lb higher than the won he was victorious off in 2021, but he proved to be thrown in that day. Off just 6lb lower, he was equally as destructive in Warwick’s Classic Chase, and Dylan Johnston’s 7lb claim could make the difference, with claimers having a good recent record in the race. The Big Breakaway is a big danger if Aintree has not left its mark, while Autonomous Cloud, The Galloping Bear and outsider Domaine De L’Isle can all be expected to run well.

  1. Iwilldoit (15/2 William Hill, 7/1 generally)
  2. The Big Breakaway (12/1 generally)
  3. Domaine De L’Isle (100/1 Bet365, 66/1 generally)

*Odds Correct At Time Of Writing – 5.05pm Tuesday 26th December*


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