Antepost Angle: Matt Brocklebank's Coral Welsh Grand National preview and tips

Elegant Escape won last year's edition

Matt Brocklebank tipped Ladbrokes Trophy winner De Rasher Counter at 33/1 - don't miss his long-range preview of the Coral Welsh National on December 27.

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1pt e.w. Steely Addition in Coral Welsh Grand National at 20/1

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Previous course form can count for plenty at Chepstow and it looks significant that Philip Hobbs, who won the race in 2009 with course regular Dream Alliance, appears to be pointing STEELY ADDITION towards the Coral Welsh Grand National at the end of the month.

He didn’t perform up to market expectations when fourth of five on his last visit to the track in January, but his two previous outings at Chepstow have yielded victories, both of which came on really testing ground.

The seven-year-old looked particularly useful when scoring over three miles on heavy going in a novices’ handicap chase at the venue 12 months ago. That success came from a mark of 137, after which the assessor raised him to 150 which appeared perfectly justified in the circumstances.

The subsequent disappointment came in a race won by Now McGinty, with De Rasher Counter and Captain Cattistock second and third respectively, so with the second winning the Ladbrokes Trophy recently we know that was a good race and Steely Addition was conceding 6lb to the winner and the third.

Hobbs found a nice race for him to sign off with a win at the end of last season at Hereford in March which showed the horse more than capable of bouncing back from a low-key run, and that’s good to know given last month’s seasonal reappearance showing.

He looked badly in need of the outing at Sandown, jumping sloppily before getting very tired late on, and obviously has a considerable amount to find on the bare form with old foe Now McGinty, who pushed the highly-rated Santini pretty close in a tight finish.

As well as having that pipe-opener behind him, the important things in Steely Addition’s favour now are the return to Chepstow, where he seems really happy on the undulations, and the step back into what promises to be a relatively big field - his wins under Rules have come in fields of 17, 11, 11 and eight.

The handicapper has dropped him 3lb in the ratings for that comeback effort so he’s now on the same mark as Now McGinty, who was nudged up 3lb from 144 to 147.

Whereas the Stuart Edmunds representative has shortened right up to now top the betting at 10/1, the usually strong-travelling Steely Addition is 20/1 generally which rates good value.

The aforementioned Captain Cattistock has to be given a decent chance too following his hard-fought, neck second to One Of Us over the best part of three and a half miles at Fontwell.

He’s one-paced to say the least but would be well suited to a really gruelling test which this race can often present.

The important thing to note is that all the horses mentioned so far look like they'll be competing under low racing weights, which has historically been a considerable positive when looking at this race.

In the past 20 runnings of the Welsh National, only four winners have carried over 11-00, although admittedly two of the past three victors have bucked that trend. And it looks like Colin Tizzard's 2016 winner Native River and 2018 winner Elegant Escape will both be back for more, the latter running from a 9lb higher official mark but 3lb 'less' in terms of weight carried due to his illustrious stable companion topping the list.

Of the pair Elegant Escape (12/1 best) has to be afforded maximum respect as he's now 4lb well-in following his staying-on, two-length third to De Rasher Counter at Newbury. It was a run that smacked of a horse still capable of winning more major races although he is in danger of falling somewhere in between proper Graded performer and high-class handicapper.

Hopefully Steely Addition can prove to be another one of those progressive types that Elegant Escape is always going to bump into in this kind of contest.

Posted at 1730 GMT on 03/12/19.

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