The Welsh National: 2.50 Chepstow
(Free tips 2016: +75 points ; 2017 18/185, +79.5; 2018, 9/115,33p, +41)
Vintage Clouds – 1 point win – 9/1 (gen) UP
Yala Enki – 1 point win – 20/1 (gen) 3rd 12/1
Looksnowtlikebrian – 1 point win – 14/1 (gen) UP
Well I could do with a winner on these free post big race tips and with any luck one of these three will prevail….
Vintage Clouds – interestingly enough when the ground is officially soft the top 5 in the weights do best, indicating that more often than not class wins out. Of course I have to trust the official going and time will tell whether that’s correct – the going stick reading indicates it may be nearer heavy so who knows! In any case, VC is a thorough stayer with a touch of class. His win LTO was the best i’d seen him jump and that was with those ‘stiff’ Haydock fences. It does look like he’s improved form last season and I can’t see him being far way here. He will race on the front end, with Yala, (they could be 1-2 the whole way!) and wont have any excuses. I don’t think he likes it proper testing and ran well in this last year, having firstly been hampered which put him out of sync, and then making a howler where he lost plenty of lengths. He did well to run on for fourth. He’s a trier and I think he will hold his position more easily on the front end this year. They do have Grand National aims but i’d like to think he will be fully tuned up for this and here to run his race. If he gets into a jumping rhythm as with LTO, he’ll be bang there over the last. I’d make him a couple of points shorter here. He seems to be fancied everywhere and that extra weight of expectation may weigh him down but he’s the most solid horse in this race this year for me. I’d fall of my seat if he’s outside of the top 4, with the usual luck in running/clean round.
Yala Enki – 20s is just too big here but his price doesn’t appear to be moving which makes me think i’ve missed something. He comes here in form, has carried big weights to victory before over 3m+, hacked up in a National trial at Haydock last season and will just jump and gallop. He may try and make all and Danny C may be happy to just sit off him. I hope they don’t take each other on but they should both be up there- the only out and out front runners I could see in the race, and if anything is going quicker than the pair of them I think they’ll be going too fast. He’s arguably still open to some improvement this year but in any case stamina and jumping are more important assets in these marathon chases than whether you have much in hand, in my view anyway. I thought this looked like a renewal where class may win out, and these two are solid C2/Grade 3 handicap performers, over 3m+, and who still have time on their side. Not many in here can tick those boxes. Anyway, he seemed overpriced for a trainer who’s won this before. I was more than happy to have a stab at 20s. He can be a ‘hot’ horse and has got himself upset before races before – so, if he runs very flat, that will be why. That’s built into the odds.
Looksnowtlikebrian – he ticks plenty of boxes for me bar two…he is usually held up and he can make the odd error – in the end, given all the other positives, I was happy to take a chance at 14s. He’s in superb form and looking ultra progressive, and well worth a go over this trip. He does run like he’ll relish it. I just hope AJ may race him more handy or in any case doesn’t get too far back. He rarely looks like falling, but if he can jump well, he will out-run these odds. The two above may be battling out and he may run on for a gallant third, or sail past if they’ve gone too hard- well, you have to dream!!
I was happy to leave the rest. The fav is short enough for one who can be scrappy at his fences and who has to prove he stays. You want a 5s shot in this sort of race to tick every box but he has a couple of questions. He is a decent animal who’s still unexposed and if he stays, clearly I won’t be shocked if he wins, but was happy to take him on at the prices. Folsom Blue stays well but he’s 11 now and if this is ‘just’ soft, then it may not be soft enough. But his stamina will get him a long way and this looks like it’s been a plan. I thought his price felt about right. I thought some younger legs may take this renewal. I can leave Pipes and he is 0/10,0p in this race to date, but fires a couple of darts this year- both are in form, and VLR may go well- he wears headgear for a reason and can get far back/look disinterested at times. 9 and 10 year olds have an awful record in this also – well 0/80,12p in the last decade, maybe that will be broken this year no doubt! I was happy to leave him at 12s, but he could go well. The rest I couldn’t really have at the odds- I thought plenty may be outclassed, but of course if the grade 3 beasts don’t run their race/take this, then something has to, with the likes of Holly Bush Henry and Jennys Surprise outrunning their odds.
Hopefully i’ve landed on the right three and can end the year on a high.
Best of luck,