Welsh National Betting: This 29/1 shot can pass Chepstow stamina test with flying colours

Tony has a big priced selection for the Welsh National at Chepstow
Tony has a big priced selection for the Welsh National at Chepstow

We're keeping Tony Calvin busy this week and after analysing the King George he now turns his attention to the Welsh National at Chepstow the day after Boxing Day, where he has his eye on a 29/1 shot...

"She is no forlorn hope to cement that reputation given her unexposed and youthful profile. She wasn't doing anything too quickly in the Irish National but an extreme test of stamina in lovely bottomless Chepstow ground could just do the trick. She is worth chancing at the price."

Working on the basis of heavy ground for Welsh National day is never a bad idea, so we will proceed upon those lines given it is already being called soft, good to soft in places, with an "unsettled" forecast up until race day on the 27th.

So if it pans out that way - and I am aware some websites are not predicting a lot of rain - then it would be very bad news for those who have backed Hennessy winner Native River ante-post as I would imagine you would have done your money.

But he is still the strong favourite at around 13/2 on the Exchange for the marathon - remarkably he was 10.09/1 when I started writing this at around 3pm, and he touched 6.25/1 before drifting to 7.613/2 - and it could well be genuinely soft ground, which would be fine for him.

But Chepstow's 'soft' can still be others' heavy....

Some will take the view that if he really is a Gold Cup horse then he ought to be up to winning this race off this mark but 3m5f110yd around Chepstow, even in soft ground, is a totally different ball-game to Cheltenham in March and my (un-educated) hunch is that they may swerve Chepstow and take in something like the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham next.

But what do I know?

What we are sure of is if the ground rides on the heavy side of soft next week then there are no shortage of mud-lovers, or at least plenty who act in it.

Mountainous won this race last season and in 2013, and Emperor's Choice landed it in 2014, and on all three occasions it was hock-deep.

Throw in the likes of Houblon Des Obeaux, Harry Topper, Onenightinvienna, Bishops Road and last season's placed horses Firebird Flyer and Shotgun Paddy - I could go on and on, as a fair few of the 62 still in the race like it wet and wild - and you have a very long-list to work from if ground is your leading criteria.

And it probably should be. As is the fact that there is a maximum field of just 20, so those who backed recent mover Viva Steve will be praying that 11 fall by the wayside in the next six days to give him a chance of making the line-up.

Of course, if you back him now and he doesn't make the cut and gets balloted out, make sure your stake is returned.

It is easy to see why he has been trimmed into 20/1 to 16/1 in recent days.

His new trainer Fergal O'Brien, as well as having one of the more entertaining Twitter accounts, is enjoying a superb season with 40 winners already on the board, and Viva Steve made a winning debut for him in the soft at Ayr last month.

That only came in a six-runner race but the runner-up Ballyben has run well in defeat since (went up 4lb for that subsequent second at Carlisle ) and that may be why the handicapper has had a re-think. He originally only put Viva Steve up 5lb, the mark which he runs off here, but he has since upped him another 2lb.

So we have a fairly-treated horse at best, and one who O'Brien may have improved markedly.

This time last year the horse was finishing an excellent second to The Last Samuri at Kempton but his new handler tried him in a first-time tongue-tie at Ayr - perhaps he had a play around with his wind after getting him from Mick Channon in the summer, too - and I can see him running a big race on the front end.

But it makes sense to revisit his chances next week if he gets in - it must be doubtful - and one who is sure to get in and who will love the ground and is being targeted at the race is Unioniste.

He has been dropped a handy 4lb, to a mark of 145, for two runs this season and you would have thought that this has been the long-term plan from the champion trainer. He was rated 159 in his pomp after winning by 10 lengths at Sandown in January 2015.

You also have to give Carole's Destrier a big shout after his Hennessy second first time out - he is 6lb well-in and won the London National over 3m5f at Sandown last year - but he was 25/1 immediately after Newbury (some odds-compilers took their eye firmly off the ball there) and is beginning to home in on favouritism at the 12.011/1 mark now.

Don't get me wrong, I think there could be some mileage in him at a double-figure price but maybe each-way the day before with enhanced place terms maybe...

You may have guessed that I am not getting involved at this stage - and that's what I thought until I stumbled upon the following horse - but Baie Des Iles at the 30.029/1 mark could be worth a small nibble. In truth, anything bigger than 25/1 is a fair bet.

Now, I wouldn't profess to knowing too much about Irish form and I am not sure the last time a five-year-old won this race - actually I am not sure if one ever has - but Katie Walsh is already jocked up on the striking grey (nearly white) mare and she does look very interesting.

She has to race off a 2lb higher mark than her Irish rating but she ran well in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse last season before finishing sixth in the Irish National in March - she stayed on from off the pace - and had a tune-up for this over hurdles last month. She was ridden prominently there and ran far better than her eventual finishing position suggested (go and take a look at the video).

She was winning over fences around Auteuil as a three-year-old and, after she won in heavy ground over 3m1f at Punchestown last January, her trainer revealed she came across from France with a big reputation.

She is no forlorn hope to cement that reputation given her unexposed and youthful profile. She wasn't doing anything too quickly in the Irish National but an extreme test of stamina in lovely bottomless Chepstow ground could just do the trick. She is worth chancing at the price.

Recommended Antepost Bet

Back Baie Des Iles at 30.029/1 in the Welsh National on December 27


***


Check out Tony's thoughts on the King George

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open your account today using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn - £/€20 Back in cash if your bet loses
Bet Now

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles