Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bets in the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow on Wednesday and he's taking two against the field.
Value Bet: Welsh National (December 27)
Native River sprinkled a touch of class on the annual slog that is the Coral Welsh Grand National last year, but Wednesday’s renewal looks more in keeping with the traditional puzzle as 20 dour stayers do battle over 3m5f on really testing ground.
Indeed, there is a 7.30 inspection at Chepstow on race-day morning with further heavy rain forecast to fall on ground that is already ‘Heavy, Soft in places’ and, while hopefully the meeting will get the green light, only truly battle-hardened stayers need apply.
I’m not entirely sure you would describe favourite Beware The Bear as that sort of horse just yet and I’m happy to take him on considering this is his most difficult test so far, while Chase The Spud certainly is battle-hardened but the handicapper has made his life tough putting him up 9lb for his latest win.
Rock The Kasbah has looked like a Welsh National type for some time as he loves Chepstow and heavy ground, but he’s also up 7lb for his latest win and looks to have a really tough task off a big weight here.
The aforementioned trio hold the first three slots in the betting but I’m happy to take them on with a couple of big-priced horses at the bottom of the weights, starting with the horse at the very bottom, MILANSBAR, who is worth getting on side at 20/1 (General).
Neil King’s horse is really well handicapped on his old form, as he was rated 145 after easily beating Three Faces West in a novices’ handicap chase at Exeter in the February of last year.
That was the same number he ran off when pulled up in last year’s Welsh National, a bad mistake at the second fence effectively ending any chance he had that day.
He’s been lightly-campaigned ever since, but is 11lb lower in the weights now and plenty of encouragement can be garnered from his performance at Chepstow last time when he was a close-up third behind Wild West Wind on December 9.
The 10-year-old stayed on well that day, shaping nicely ahead of another tilt at the Welsh National and this test should suit as he likes Chepstow, stays well and relishes really testing ground.
He doesn’t do things quickly and needs plenty of assistance from the man up top, but first-time cheekpieces could well assist Trevor Whelan on Wednesday as his half-brother, Bertenbar, improved in the same headgear and he looks just the sort of horse that will benefit from the applied sheepskin.
The other one I want to back is BUCKHORN TIMOTHY at 33/1 (General) for last year’s winning handler Colin Tizzard.
This horse also has a light weight and he’s another that should be suited to this test as he goes really well at Chepstow, having finished second here on three occasions, while he’s another that goes through testing ground well and he stays too.
Indeed, two starts ago, he did them for stamina over the furthest he’s ever been, 3m2f over hurdles at Fontwell, so he’s seriously unexposed over this sort of distance and I can only see it bringing about further improvement.
He was off the track for almost a year before reappearing in October but he looked as good as ever and Tizzard has protected his chase mark by running him in two hurdles so far this campaign.
Last time he was lucky to win at Wincanton after clear leader Springtown Lake came down at the last, but he stayed on well enough and would’ve been second anyway, a perfectly good preparation ahead of his switch back to chasing.
He’s a better chaser than he is a hurdler, looks fairly handicapped, has only had the nine runs over fences, winning two, and the best run of his career over the bigger obstacles came at this track.
Posted at 1700 GMT on 26/12/17.
Ben Linfoot's Value Bet aim: The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK. Running total: +376.89pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).