Saturday Racing Tips: Mountainous can return to Welsh National heights

Mountainous (right) will bid to win the Welsh National for a second time on Saturday
Mountainous (right) will bid to win the Welsh National for a second time on Saturday

Chepstow's rescheduled Welsh National is the feature race on Saturday, while at Kempton the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle is a wide open heat, and our man Tony Calvin has selections for you to consider in both races...


"Kerry Lee has really impressed since taking over the training license from her father, with her chasers operating at a strike rate of 22% - some feat for a stable with limited ammunition - and that is a further positive to Mountainous' claims."

Back Mountainous at 9.08/1 in the 13:45 at Chepstow

If there is any significant rain at Chepstow on Friday night or Saturday morning, the liveliest - and perhaps only - betting on the meeting could be the exchange's Will Racing Go Ahead? market.

There is certainly nothing new about a heavy-ground Welsh National, and there have been some stirring finishes in recent years.

But you get the distinct impression that, given the rainfall since the meeting's initial abandonment because of a waterlogged course on December 27, this renewal could be one for the ages.

And one that takes ages, too.

Perhaps not on a par with the 2001 Grand National, which had just four finishers - and two of them re-mounted - but it could be that even proven mudlarks find the conditions too testing to act in. As one leading trainer put it at the start of the week, Chepstow's ground could be of a type that no horse enjoys.

And, with the current whip rules, possibly not the jockeys, either.

As a result, I think you have to approach the Chepstow meeting with your "minimum stakes" hat on.

In the big one itself at 13:45 matters are further complicated by the fact that, obviously, the field is full of horses who have form in heavy ground and over marathon trips, so there is definitely no angle there.

I hate being unoriginal - though I frequently am - but I think Mountainous looks the likeliest winner and rates a small-stakes play at 9.08/1 or bigger.

He edged home in a heavy-ground Welsh National two seasons ago, and off a 5lb higher mark than today's too, and has been running respectably on going far too quick for him this season.

He was beaten only seven lengths on good to soft in the London National at Sandown last time, and you would have to think that he is one of the leading players in this 20-runner contest under these conditions, and a light racing weight.

Kerry Lee has really impressed since taking over the training license from her father, with her chasers operating at a strike rate of 22% - some feat for a stable with limited ammunition - and that is a further positive to Mountainous' claims.

Like I said, it's unoriginal, but he would be clear favourite in my book.


***


Nothing in the 14:55 or 15:25 floats my boat - though Subtle Grey and Otago Trail would be my token choices respectively - but I am going to take a flier with Major Mac in the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle at 14:20.

Back him at 17.016/1 or bigger.

He clearly has a mountain to climb on the bare form of his Newbury debut third, but the ability to act in these conditions could count for a lot and Major Mac scores highly on that front.

Indeed, he can boast a heavy-ground 1m4f win on the Flat here, and the application of a tongue tie for the first time suggests we didn't see him to maximum advantage at Newbury.

If he wins the contest for the lead with the exposed Chic Name, then he could just grind this out from the front.


***


It will be only be marginally less testing over at Kempton where, as feared, my ante-post (40-1 1,2,3,4) each way selection with the Betfair Sportsbook, Little Boy Boru, races from 5lb out of the handicap in the Lanzarote at 14:35 courtesy of top-weight Brother Tedd standing his ground.

But we factored that fully into our argument on Tuesday - you can read it here - and I still think there is some mileage in his claims at 26.025/1 and above, especially with Harry Bannister taking 3lb off.

The problem for those coming fresh to the market was going to be that both Gevrey Chambertin and Yala Enki only had the Kempton race as their second preference according the BHA's racing admin website on Friday morning, and presumably were heading to their preferred Chepstow targets if that meeting was on.

And Yala Enki was the one I fancied in the day-of-race market at 7.06/1.

Fortunately, however, his trainer had a late change of heart on Friday morning, and the horse now heads to Kempton - Gevrey Chamberton looks to be heading to Wales - where I think quotes of 8-1 are very fair, even in a race where those at the top of the market all have solid claims.

Yala Enki was very well-backed in the Betfair Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock, but didn't last home, and I think the step back down in trip will suit a horse who looks well-handicapped on his earlier Exeter win.

He beat Duke Des Champs by 16 lengths off levels over an extended 2m5f at Exeter, and the runner-up has since won at Market Rasen and was beaten a short-head at Ascot, and is now rated 135. Yala Enki runs off 130 here, and could give these the run around from the front under his 5lb claimer.


***


The three-runner listed chase at 14:00 is clearly of no use to us but I have to side with Grandads Horse at 17.016/1 in the 15:10 though I do fear Le Reve.

I was all over Grandads Horse at 14-1 for the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day, only for that meeting to be abandoned, so I make no apologies for re-hashing the argument here. Well, virtually copy and pasting, actually.

Suffice to say, the bare form of his last five runs gives him little chance, not least the fact that he only beat one horse home when a 40-length 12th at Sandown on his reappearance.

But if you go and have a look at the video of that comeback run in the London Marathon then you will be interested in him off a mark of 137 now he steps back in trip to 3m.

Trainer Charlie Longsdon made no secret that the horse would need his first of the run of the season but he must have been delighted with the way he travelled for a long way there - he got in a bit close to a couple of his fences, and was shuffled back on the bend on one occasion - and he wasn't given at all a hard time once his chance had gone.

I think that was a very promising run indeed, and it was worth recalling Longsdon's comments about the horse in a Racing Post stable tour earlier in the season:

"Great old servant who´s won 12 races for us, and had his first break for two years over the summer. After the bet365 Gold Cup Aidan Coleman told me to aim him for one race and he´d probably win a decent handicap, so that´s the plan. He´ll probably need a race to sharpen him up."

This could be that decent handicap, after Wetherby bit the dust, and he was pretty bullish in the paper before that abandoned meeting, too. The horse has been dropped 3lb after Sandown, so he is now 2lb lower than when winning over 3m in the soft at Doncaster last December.


***


Stars Over The Sea has dropped to a very tempting mark in the 15:45 but the testing ground deters me from putting him up as a bet.

Good luck.


Recommended Bets

Back Mountainous at 9.08/1 in the 13:45 at Chepstow
Back Major Mac at 17.016/1 in the 14:20 at Chepstow
Back Yala Enki at 7.06/1 in the 14:35 at Kempton
Back Grandads Horse at 17.016/1 in the 15:10 at Kempton


Already Advised

Back Little Boy Boru at 40-1 ¼ 1,2,3,4 with the Betfair Sportsbook in the 14:35 at Kempton


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