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Thursday, 3 January 2013
Welsh National preview
For a race with a long history, there are an abundance of stats to assess. Essentially, I am a stats-man but, while others follow stats blindly, I cherry-pick those that I consider to be the most influential. I'm expecting this race to be won by a young chaser (as this year the race is being run in January, "young" means 9yo or less - and 18 of the last 21 renewals has been won by the equivalent of an 8 or 9yo horse). The winner will certainly come into the race in-form (14 of the last 17 winners had finished 1st or 2nd on one of their last 2 starts).
Of those due to carry 11st and more, none of them strike me as potentially "Gold Cup" class which means opposing the favourite Tea For Three (currently appalling value at just 3/1), and also Giles Cross - who has been 2nd in the race for the past 2 renewals. There are 4 outside the handicap and, apart from Our Island, they are all too old. That leaves 14 weighted between 10st - 10st 13lb. Of those, the 2nd-fav Sona Sasta (8/1) won LTO at Chepstow but is now a 10yo and, tho' he'll love the ground, this extreme trip may find him out. Viking Blond (8/1) is very genuine but he'll face a battle for the lead with Giles Cross and I feel he needs an easier task to win. Expect a bold show from him. Alfie Spinner (11/1) ticks a lot of boxes and could be interesting as he's a course winner (16 of last 20 winners had won at Chepstow previously) and he loves heavy ground. He fell early-on LTO in the Hennessey, but his 3rd on his seasonal debut at Ascot was tremendous given as it was on ground quicker than he likes. He would be one for the shortlist, but I've just heard (via twitter) that he's a non-runner as he goes to Sandown instead - shame.
Universal Soldier (14/1) was outclassed by Quartz De Thaix LTO and I feel he's held on OR138, as (I reckon) is Soll who is also 14/1. Next in the betting is Monbeg Dude and followers of my blog will have been on him LTO at 40/1 (one of 3 horses advised, the others being Bradley (2nd) and Any Currency (4th)) when he won at Cheltenham over 3m3f. The ground being heavy could be an issue, but he handled the soft well enough LTO. One for the shortlist.
Master Overseer (14/1) had a tough race LTO on 14-Dec and may not have recovered. He also ran poorly in the race last year off OR130 (now rated OR137). Major Malarkey (25/1) is too old at 10yo and best form is on good ground. Royal Charm (28/1) has no form beyond 2m4f. Katenko (28/1) had a tough race LTO on 22-Dec and I think this will come too soon. The others comprising Jadanli, Mon Mome, Harouet, and Triggerman all look outclassed in a race where 12 of the last 16 winners started at odds no longer than 14/1.
So, the shortlist comprises of just MONBEG DUDE @ 14/1. As there will almost certainly by 16+ runners, I'd be inclined to have a couple of £5 eachway wagers, for instance on OUR ISLAND @ 33/1 who will stay the trip well and enjoy the ground. I was also going to include QUARTZ DE THAIX @ 14/1 who does have a look of class about him, but the rumour amongst the twitteratti is that he'll miss the race on Saturday.
ALFIE SPINNER is worth some attention in the 3:40 at Sandown on Saturday as he's been aimed at the Welsh National for weeks so, to opt-out at this late stage for another engagement, is very interesting - especially as it looks like he had such a good chance in the Welsh National.
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