Our racing expert Ben Linfoot seeks out the value in the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow on Friday while he has two other bets including one at Kempton.
Recommended Bets: December 27
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Evan Williams has already won some big handicaps this season with the likes of Bold Plan and Mack The Man, but he could land the holy grail for a Welsh trainer on Friday when his PRIME VENTURE (12/1 General) bids for the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow (2.50).
There are some class acts at the top of the weights in this year’s renewal, with last year’s winner Elegant Escape heading Yala Enki, West Approach, Now McGinty and Potters Corner, a quintet of horses who all have good chances.
Now McGinty has a nice profile for this race and is unexposed, whereas Potters Corner has proven stamina and his chase mark has been preserved since he won the Midlands National over 4m2f back in March.
A win for either of those two wouldn’t surprise, but there are several horses getting plenty of weight from their classier rivals in this race and the one they all have to fear is Prime Venture off 10st 1lb.
He’s yet to win a chase from eight starts, but he’s run some good races in defeat and, crucially, his three best runs over fences have been at Chepstow.
Last December he chased home a real Chepstow specialist in Ramses De Teillee, running really well in second off a mark of 137, and he was bumped up a couple of pounds to 139 at that stage – running fourth off that rating in the aforementioned Potters Corner Midlands National.
He gets a stone pull at the weights with Potters Corner on Friday for that 18-length defeat, but the Welsh National distance of 3m6f (and a bit) looks more in his favour and it wouldn’t be a surprise were he able to reverse that form.
We know he goes on testing ground and he underlined his liking for Chepstow when chasing home another of Friday’s rivals, Truckers Lodge, in a beginners’ chase at this track last time out.
A late mistake didn’t help his cause that day, but he wasn’t given a hard time in the closing stages and it looked very much a prep for this race, one which will have pleased his trainer on what was his first start of the campaign.
Williams reaches for the first-time cheekpieces in a bid to eke out a bit more improvement and off 135, given his preparation, he’s worth a go at 12s even if he has already attracted a bit of cash on Thursday afternoon.
The best bet on the Chepstow card is PERFECT MAN in the “The Smart Money’s On Coral” Handicap Hurdle and he’s well worth backing at 9/1 (General).
Olly Murphy’s horse was really impressive when winning over Friday’s course and distance in November, defying interference when staying on really well to win by more than a length, going away.
The form has worked out well as the third, Good And Hardy, has won twice since, while the fourth, Dr Des, bolted up by 19 lengths on his latest start at Uttoxeter.
Perfect Man can be marked up for a win in a race that is working out well and he looks an improved horse for a long summer break that began in March.
An 8lb hike in the weights makes like tougher, but he looks a big price with plenty in his favour including the booking of champion jockey Richard Johnson.
Finally, French Crusader looks the one to beat in the closing Ladbrokes Football ‘Acca-Boosty’ Handicap Hurdle after he was second to brilliant Christmas Hurdle winner Epatante at Newbury last time out.
However, he takes a lot out of the market and the one to be on is last year’s winner EDDIEMAURICE at 12/1 (General).
John Flint’s horse loves this race having finished a close-up fifth in 2016 off 125, second in 2017 off 121 and first last year off 119, so unsurprisingly this has been the target again.
He went up to 125 after winning this race easily by three lengths last year, but is back down to a rating of 120 after just two subsequent starts over hurdles.
In March he won a novice handicap chase off 119, further evidence that he’s effective off this sort of rating, and his seasonal reappearance at Huntingdon will have blown away the cobwebs ahead of this assignment.
The ground is absolutely fine for him, the race should be run to suit once again and Jamie Moore is back in the saddle. He looks a fair bet at 12s.
Posted at 1700 GMT on 26/12/19
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