The countdown for the race has begun with Chepstow Racecourse reporting a surge in advance bookings. Phil Bell, South West Regional Director, explains: “Forward planning for the Coral Welsh Grand National brought about a number of significant changes - value for money and ultimate entertainment being two key objectives. We have significantly reduced our entry price, giving a family of four the chance to enjoy a premier raceday for just £40. This year, we will implement a family marquee providing a warm and friendly base with bonus entertainment. This will complement our other on-course activities and our quality racecard.”
Huge Welsh presence
Welsh counterparts Rebecca Curtis, Evan Williams, Tim Vaughan, Peter Bowen, Dai Burchell and Debra Hamer all have entries for their yards and Ffos Las guru Dai Walters has revealed his ambition to win this year’s £100,000 Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow with the Richard Lee-trained Mountainous. The eight year-old gelding is progressing nicely ahead of the 3m 5f Grade 3 handicap.
Dai Walters keen to add Welsh National to Welsh Champion Hurdle
Walters said: “To win a race of this stature on home turf would be a childhood dream come true for all connections.” Trainer of Mountainous is Richard Lee who trained Le Beau Bai to win in 2011 told us: “We have five horses entered in the Coral Welsh Grand National with Mountainous and Knock A Hand more likely to make the cut. Mountainous has had two runs this season, placed in both on ground that would have been a fraction quick for the big horse. He’s progressed nicely and the Welsh Grand National is firmly in our minds. Jamie Moore and Noel Fehily both agree that Mountainous is a special horse – one that they don’t mind getting up early to ride!” Lee added: “It’s still too early to comment on possible weights as we’ll all know where we stand when a decision on top weight Tidal Bay’s participation has been made. Nevertheless, I’m a positive thinker and we’re in it to win it!”
Highland Lodge definitely running at Chepstow
One horse who is definitely going to Chepstow is Highland Lodge though trainer Emma Lavelle is hoping that some rain arrives before the marathon contest. Owned by The Unusual Suspects, Highland Lodge attempted to make all of the running in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury last month before being outpaced on the good ground in the closing stages and finishing fourth. Lavelle was delighted with the effort from her seven-year-old, who also finished behind subsequent Badger Ales Trophy winner Standing Ovation earlier this season, she said: “His performance in the Hennessy was tremendous. He jumped superbly and was so game to keep galloping from the front and finish fourth. Of all the years for it to be dry, when we had him so well for the race it was such a shame it had to be this one.”
Sydney Paget made second-favourite
Sydney Paget has been made second-favourite at 10/1 behind Goonyella (who is 8/1) for the race after an easy win at Haydock on Saturday. He has been allotted 10st 8lb following the release of the weights. The Donald McCain-trained six-year-old, was ridden handily and scored after being eased down over 3m 1f on soft ground. His official rating has gone up 13lb to 145 and, speaking just after the race, McCain said: "I've always liked him. I put him in the Welsh National and we'll definitely consider it. He likes proper soft ground and he jumps well so it could be just the race for him."
Paul Nicholls to run Tidal Bay
Popular veteran Tidal Bay tops them on 11st 12lb and he could be given the chance of one more big-race win in the Welsh National. Trainer Paul Nicholls says the 12-year-old, rated a 20-1 chance, would be competitive as the official handicapper has dropped his rating by 8lb. Nicholls said: “I'm quite sweet on the Welsh National for him because I think it would suit his style of running. He loves to be dropped out last and creep into it."
Last year’s Coral Welsh National winner Monbeg Dude and runner-up Teaforthree did not surprise anyone when not entering for this year’s renewal with connections deciding that the plans this year all lead to Aintree for the 2014 Grand National. Horses can win both races but it is that much harder to do so, and luck, preparation, fitness and going, have to be in favour extreme! Explaining Teaforthree's seasonal campaign, Rebecca Curtis told us: “Teaforthree was late coming in and to be honest, he’s not likely to run as we would need a prep run ahead of the race, which is only five weeks away. We’ll be looking to be ready for January and to line-up once again in the Grand National.” She continued: “Boyfromnowhere (14-1 with Coral) will definitely run, he will have a nice break now, which will be ideal ahead of the big race”
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