Chepstow will be praying that they can avoid another influx of wet weather as they look to host their rescheduled Welsh National meeting on Saturday, and if they can beat off the elements they should be set for a superb renewal of the marathon contest with a stellar field going to post, in what is sure to be an energy-sapping renewal of the Welsh highlight.
Rebecca Curtis’s Teaforthree has been subject to significant ante-post support and he is a warm favourite with Coral, who have priced him up as the 7/2 market leader. A sublime winner of the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival, the nine-year-old will also be ridden by champion jockey AP McCoy and the pair will be looking to build on a decent effort in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury last month.
Outclassed by an array of top notch horses, the gelding managed to finish sixth in the vintage renewal and with the trip and ground conditions likely to prove no problem then he most certainly sets the benchmark here, but there will be some notable challengers heading to the 3m 5f 110y start.
Victor Dartnall’s year finished in a rather topsy-turvy manner, but his stable star Giles Cross will be hoping to go one better than last year and he is available at 10/1 in the latest betting with Coral for Saturday’s big race. Producing an absolute corking run 12 months ago, the eleven-year-old was just overtaken by Le Beau Bai in the closing stages to be denied a memorable victory. A true mudlark, the veteran will be hoping conditions don’t dry out too much in the days leading up to the race and if it stays soft then he has to be an each-way contender.
Paul Nicholls last won the Welsh National in 2005 and the Ditcheat master will saddle Michel Le Bon (8/1) who will be looking to use his second to The Package in the Badger Ales Trophy as a stepping stone to glory here. A lightly-raced horse, he could well still be on the upgrade and is sure to come on for his Wincanton exertions earlier in the season.
Viking Blond (8/1) will no doubt adopt his traditional front-running tactics for Nigel Twiston-Davies, but he has form to find with Monbeg Dude (12/1) who got the better of him in a war of attrition at Cheltenham’s Open meeting in November and Michael Scudamore’s raider could well be one staying on through tired horses in the closing stages.
Jo Hughes’s Soll (12/1) was brought down in the four-miler at the Festival and could be an intriguing horse now stepped back up in trip, whilst David Pipe’s Sona Sasta (8/1) returns to Chepstow after winning impressively over three miles there last month, but the jury is still out on whether he fully gets the trip after he tired in the aforementioned four-miler at Cheltenham.
8/1 Michel Le Bon
8/1 Viking Blond
9/1 Sona Sasta
10/1 Alfie Spinner
10/1 Giles Cross
12/1 Quartz De Thaix
12/1 Universal Soldier
12/1 Monbeg Dude
14/1 Master Overseer
Odds supplied by Coral.com, featuring best price guarantee on all UK and Irish horse racing.
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