I’m most reluctant to tip the favourite in most handicaps, let alone in the Welsh National, especially one who can be a scrappy jumper. But I’m finding it hard to get away from Elegant Escape, Hennessy runner-up.
I think time will tell that trying to give his much improved stablemate Sizing Tennessee half a stone that day was a giant task. That run came not long after a tough race at Sandown where he outfought the in-form Thomas Patrick.
He made a mistake at the last that day and he tends to err more than once in a steeplechase. It says much for his engine that he still finds himself in with a shout at the business end in most of his races. Jumping and rhythm are the name of the game, especially in these marathons, but for all his clumsy jumping at times, he has so far managed to stay on his feet. Despite a later mistake at Newbury, he jumped better than he has and there’s a chance he’s finally getting the hang of it. I think he’ll probably be too good for this field.
Vieux Lion Rouge is one who has put in some excellent efforts, mostly at Aintree and, at first glance, he looked the value here at Chepstow. He ran well in the Becher last time, coming from a long way back on his first run after wind surgery. There is some evidence (though not enough on which to make a substantial case yet) that the second run after this operation can be the one where the horse shows the full benefits.
And one who appeals at a much bigger price is Jennys Surprise, a mare who’s obviously had her training troubles. But she has now put together a string of four performances in a row that showed a consistent level of form around the mid to higher 130s mark in Racing Post Ratings. Indeed, her recent victory saw her achieve her best rating ever (139).
Were it not for some evidence that she is best fresh, I’d recommend her with a bit more gusto. But at around 50/1 on Betfair, I’m happy to back her. Her trainer Fergal O’Brien is excellent as is Brennan, who rides. If there is significant market support for her, I’ll increase my interest.
Elegant Escape is 11/2 and is the main selection.
Vieux Lion Rouge is around 14/1 and is a saver along with Jennys Surprise who is 50/1 on the Betfair exchange (win only) at the time of writing.
Those who back EW should note that Skybet offer 7 places to 1/5th the odds and that about half the remaining bookies offer first five at a quarter the odds.
EDIT: Given that there have been quite a few more visitors to the blog lately, I ought to add that last week I had small bets on Baie Des Iles and Holly Bush Henry in the Welsh National (in case you come across my posts elsewhere and think I’m spraying different tips everywhere).
Those were placed before the declarations and much as I’d like to cover myself by tipping 5 horses, it’s not realistic. Hence me sticking to the three chosen from the overnight decs.