As the final cold cuts of leftover Christmas turkey disappear, punters can enjoy festive action on the track with one of the highlights of the National Hunt calendar, the Coral Welsh Grand National.
Taking place on Tuesday at Chepstow in its annual December 27 slot, the Welsh classic has been run every year since 1948,when the race resumed after World War II.
Won 12 months ago by 13/2 shot Iwilldoit and Stan Sheppard, a winning purse of over £85k is at stake so not only is this one of the most prestigious races on the British jump racing calendar but also one with a very handy winner’s kitty up for grabs.
So who is in the frame this year? Here are four punts to consider.
*market prices subject to change
The Big Dog (J: Aiden Coleman; T: Peter Fahey) – 7/1
Our first tip is with The Big Dog.
Going in his second Welsh Grand National, the Peter Fahey-trained 9yo was a winner in his last two trips at Navan and Limerick with Keith Donoghue on board.
Here, Aiden Coleman takes the reins and currently 7/1 in the markets, we should ponder that this race has been won on three of the last five occasions by relative long shots, arguably highlighted by Raz De Maree’s sensational win in 2017.
Five years ago the 16/1 French 13yo showed neither price norage were a factor, so Coleman’s mount should not be overawed. There is also the further element in play that Coleman has his own Welsh National win with Emperor’s Choice in 2014.
Pulled up in last year’s contest, his team are expecting better things in 2022 and with good to soft going expected which should suit him down to the ground, The Big Dog could be the top dog.
Pats Fancy (J: James Bowen; T: Rebecca Curtis) – 8/1
Next up at a slightly longer price of 8/1, Pats Fancy has pricked our attention.
Though winless in three, the 7yo son of Oscar still has a goodrecord at Chepstow with two of four race wins in Monmouthshire.
Even if his last trip here earlier this month saw a lowly 10thplace, after taking the winning post exactly 12 months to the day in the Coral Handicap Chase, Pats Fancy knows how to win in Wales.
Although the extra distance could be a stumbling block, Pat will indeed be one of our own fancies to do well at a decent price.
Movethechains (J: TBC; T: Gary Moore) – 25/1
For something a little longer in value, Movethechains should be given consideration.
Of the three horses that come into this with successive wins, our first tip and marginal favourite Quick Wave – with trainer Venetia Williams seeking a third trip victory – will have good backing but looking for a heftier price that might cause a surprise, this 25/1 shot is one to look at.
The horse with the biggest winning streak in the field, this is obviously a huge step-up in class and distance for an 8yo whose last victory away from his happy hunting ground of Lingfield was back in March 2020. With that said, this horse could go the trip.
We always say that form is not to be scoffed at especially over the jumps and going for a fifth win on the bounce, though it would be a more than a surprise win, with a jockey yet to be named an e/w fancy may yet be worth a punt.
The Big Breakaway (J: Brendan Powell; Joe Tizzard) –12/1
Our final backing is somewhere in the middle ground for a price but The Big Breakaway might be one that has slipped the pundits’ net.
A second race of the season, Joe Tizzard’s 7yo was beaten by a head by Fontaine Collonges at Haydock last time out at 7/1.
Available here for possibly double those odds come the off, the gelding may be without a win in nine but has finished runner-up on four occasions.
Though his early career saw far brighter times in winning his first three races, it is also worth noting that whilst his last win came over two years ago, that very victory was a short trip down the road at Cheltenham where a degree of calibre was proven over 3m.
With Tizzard looking to emulate father Colin Tizzard’s victories in 2016 and 2018 on Native River and Elegant Escape, we just fancy this 12/1 pick to feature.