Welsh Grand National 2016: Timeform's runner-by-runner guide

Mountainous (right) winning his first Welsh National in 2013
Mountainous (right) winning his first Welsh National in 2013

Timeform bring you their runner-by-runner guide to the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow on Tuesday.

"NATIVE RIVER looks tailor-made for the demands of this race and can make light of top weight..."

Welsh Grand National (Grade 3)

Chepstow,
Tue 27th Dec, 14:40


1. NATIVE RIVER (Colin Tizzard) Three wins last term included Mildmay at Aintree, and also second in 4-miler. Creditable return over hurdles in October and improved a chunk when winning 19-runner Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury last time by half a length from Carole's Destrier, rallying to regain lead. Key player on these terms (escapes 4-lb penalty as he cannot carry more than top weight of 11-12).

2. BISHOPS ROAD (Kerry Lee) Followed win at Sandown last January with game success in Grand National Trial at Haydock (3½m) in February, both on heavy going. Let down by jumping final two starts but encouraging return when fourth to Otago Trail in Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle last month. Should be spot on now.

3. VICONTE DU NOYER (Colin Tizzard) Won twice over fences for Henry de Bromhead in 2015 but better than ever when making winning start for Colin Tizzard in 27f handicap at Cheltenham last month, well suited by new trip (raced up to 2½m in Ireland). Disappointed over the National fences in Becher Chase at Aintree since, though.

4. HOUBLON DES OBEAUX (Venetia Williams) Goes well in the mud (though doesn't need it) and stays 3¼m. Revived for the fitting of cheekpieces when winning Denman Chase at Newbury last February but took little interest and pulled up in Bowl at Aintree when last seen in April. Is 4 lb below his mark when runner-up in 2014 Hennessy.

5. THEATRE GUIDE (Colin Tizzard) Won 15-runner Betbright Chase at Kempton last February. Only eighth in the latest Hennessy (placed in 2013 and 2015) but back to winning ways in first-time blinkers when beating Perfect Candidate by a nose in 3¼m handicap at Cheltenham recently (picked up penalty). Needs to prove his stamina.

6. VICENTE (Paul Nicholls) Won maiden at Newton Abbot and novices at Wincanton and Cheltenham last season before good fifth in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and career-best win in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr (by by 2¾ lengths from Alvarado). Shaped as if in need of reappearance in Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury last time (likely to have finished well held but fell two out). Entitled to come on for that and this mark may not be beyond him

7. HARRY TOPPER (Kim Bailey) High-class chaser in his day, winning Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury (by 25 lengths from Al Ferof) in 2013/14. Finished 22 lengths fifth of 6 to Coneygree in 2015 renewal of Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury when last seen and plenty to prove back from big absence in such a competitive affair.

8. KATKEAU (David Pipe) Smart chaser who won handicap at Uttoxeter (by ½ length from Gas Line Boy) in April. Fell heavily first in Rehearsal Chase won by Otago Trail at Newcastle last time on reappearance and has often checked out rather tamely when tried in this sort of company.

9. CAROLE'S DESTRIER (Neil Mulholland) Won 15-runner London National at Sandown (3½m) in December 2015 and took form up another notch when a staying-on half-length second to Native River in Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on reappearance. Likely to go well again, though meets Native River (who idled) on the same weight terms.

10. ONENIGHTINVIENNA (Philip Hobbs) Smart novice chaser last season, winning on heavy ground over 3m at Exeter and runner-up on two other occasions. Cemented good record fresh when landing odds in a match at Carlisle last month and worth another go over a marathon trip (unseated at second Becher's in Grand National last April).

11. MILANSBAR (Neil King) Enjoyed productive 2015/16 season, winning novice handicap at Exeter, finishing runner-up in Midlands National at Uttoxeter (33f) and going well for long way in Scottish National at Ayr. Respectable fourth to Lamb Or Cod over 3m here on reappearance and return to stiffer test will suit.

12. UNIONISTE (Paul Nicholls) Not at his very best last season (though did win small-field minor chase), including another failed attempt in the Grand National, and well held on both starts this time around. Now on lowest mark for four years and should be suited by this sort of test, but clearly has something to prove at present.

13. Baie des Iles (Ross O'Sullivan, Ireland) Only five but won amateurs' handicap at Punchestown last January and ended 2015/16 campaign with sixth in Irish Grand National. Well held over hurdles on return a month ago but should come on for that run. Loves the mud and stays at least 3½m, so worth a second look at a big price.

14. BEG TO DIFFER (Jonjo O'Neill) Often susceptible to jumping errors but despite this won handicap at Sandown in 2015/16 before being sent off at just 11/1 for Ultima Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival. Looks worth a try at this sort of trip but jumping remains an issue and poor efforts both outings this season.

15. MOUNTAINOUS (Kerry Lee) Won this race in both 2013 and 2015 (race actually run in 2016, pulled up in 2014 renewal), from 5 lb lower in the weights on second occasion. Pulled up on both starts since last year's success, including on return, but didn't shape too badly on ground quicker than ideal there. 10 lb higher than last year.

16. FIREBIRD FLYER (Evan Williams) Mudlark who finished two and three-quarter lengths second to Mountainous in this race last year before winning 18-runner Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter (33f) 10 weeks later. Looked as good as ever on return when second to Three Faces West at Haydock last month and should go well again.

17. ROYALE NIGHT (Dr Richard Newland) Won Durham National at Sedgefield (by 2¾ lengths from Lackamon) for second successive year in 2015/16 and good effort when 4½ lengths fourth of 28 to Vicente in Scottish Grand National at Ayr same season. Well beaten in former this time around, however, and was below form in Scottish Borders National at Kelso last time.

18. GOULANES (Neil Mulholland) Disappointed in this race in 2013 but bounced back (following a wind operation) in Midlands Grand National 11 weeks later. Unraced since (has left David Pipe) but is just 1 lb higher in the weights than for last success.

19. RAZ DE MAREE (Gavin Patrick Cromwell, Ireland) Won Cork National (by ½ length from Forever Gold) in November with career-best effort. Wasn't disgraced with seventh of 25 in Troytown at Navan last time back at 3m, and jumping has been better so far this season (had often let him down in the past).

20. EMPEROR'S CHOICE (Venetia Williams) Won at Haydock (by 1¾ lengths from Lackamon) in 2015/16 but failed to complete other two starts that season. Shaped as if needed run when well-beaten eighth of 12 to Harry The Viking at Kelso last time and something to prove.

Timeform Welsh Grand National 1-2-3-4
1. Native River
2. Carole's Destrier
3. Mountainous


Timeform Analyst's Verdict:

NATIVE RIVER looks tailor-made for the demands of this race and can make light of top weight and become the first since Playschool in 1987 to complete the Hennessy/Welsh National double. Hennessy runner-up Carole's Destrier is unlikely to be too far behind him again, while last season's 1-2 Mountainous and Firebird Flyer are also much respected. Milansbar is one who could go well at bigger odds.

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