The Welsh National card at Chepstow promises a bountiful Placepot dividend...
"In bad ground like that forecast to prevail today it often pays to side with prominent racers and that is going to be reflected in our selections."
12:30 - Conscious of what's to come on this card, a banker in the opening maiden hurdle would be ideal. There's a good opportunity for just that, as Deputy Dan wouldn't be a maiden but for bumping into another useful and progressive sort in Champagne West at Warwick last time. He pulled well clear with that rival that day, ultimately going down by a length after looking somewhat awkward under pressure. Deputy Dan's response when asked remains the only real question mark and even that's not a huge concern in relative terms for Placepot punters.
13:00 - This novice handicap, even reduced in size from six to eight, remains very competitive. We'll try and get by with just the two, though. Bertie Boru falls into a similar camp to that of Deputy Dan, his quirks not unduly worrying when the Placepot is what's being discussed, while this return to three miles will surely suit. Hansupfordetroit has scarcely put a foot wrong for his new yard and has plenty of form on today's testing ground.
13:30 - Lookout Mountain is at least as solid as likely favourite Moorlands Mist, with his stamina completely beyond question and his form steadily progressive. He is also back under Maurice Linehan, whose 5-lb claim is essentially unnecessary so accomplished is he already. Lookout Mountain tends to be held up and in these conditions that can sometimes backfire spectacularly, so a front-runner makes the most sense as insurance and Makethe Mostofnow is our weapon of choice. He normally holds it together once he gets going and looked to be back in form over an inadequate trip last time.
14:00 - To be perfectly honest, even with five runners the Finale is a tough race to crack, with there being no guarantees of any given horse making the first two. However, some of the dangers just can't be included in our perm and we could really do with keeping the lines down, so Kentucky Hyden goes in as a tentative banker. An impressive winner in bad ground on his British debut, he was undone by a muddling race at Cheltenham earlier in the month and can progress granted a fuller test of stamina.
14:35 - Earlier risks mean we can probably afford four of the 20 entered in the Welsh National. In bad ground like that forecast to prevail today it often pays to side with prominent racers and that is going to be reflected in our selections. Both Highland Lodge and Teaforthree are bold-jumping front runners and, though both have crept up to marks that may keep them from winning, they are ideal Placepot selections. Vintage Star also races close up, and he has a bit more scope from a handicapping perspective than the aforementioned pair having got into this race off the same mark as when just held off by the well-handicapped Hey Big Spender at Newcastle last time. Lastly there's Merry King, who tends to race off the pace but is building a decent record in good staying handicaps without suggesting he's fully exposed as yet.
15:10 - In the final leg, Un Bon P'tit Gars looks one to stick with after a couple of second-placed finishes on his last two starts. He's jumped well in front on both occasions too, a real boost given today's conditions. Conversely, Get It On is more of a stalker, though he's been so effective on testing ground so far this winter and looking further back that we're not concerned over his effectiveness. He's sensibly been given a break following quick-fire successes in October and returns off a mark that's still realistic.
12:30 - 5
13:00 - 2, 3
13:30 - 5, 6
14:00 - 3
14:35 - 2, 4, 6, 10
15:10 - 7, 9
= 32 lines