Pending no more rain Chepstow stages the rearranged Welsh Grand National this Saturday. The original race could not take place at the track due to water logging and the area needs a dry spell before the race for it to not suffer the same fate. Even if the marathon contest goes ahead the ground will be desperate and that will favour the heavy conditions specialists which brings Emperor’s Choice into contention.
Two horses have won the Welsh National this century and also won the original National at Aintree. Synchronised has won both the race and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the only horse to have done the double since 2000. The race is run over more than three miles and five furlongs and 22 fences are jumped. The last dual winner was Bonanza Boy in 1988 and 1989 so Emperor’s Choice would be achieving a rare feat as the horse won the Welsh National in 2014.
A maximum field of 20 runners have been declared but several could be withdrawn if the underfoot conditions are too demanding. This would be a good case for adopting a reserve system which means a horse gets into the race when another is withdrawn. If more rain falls there could be five or more absentees which would impact on each-way betting. Bookmakers settle each-way bets on the first four at one quarter the odds in handicaps with 16 runners or more. That would go to three places if only 15 or fewer horses went to post. Conditions will suit Emperor’s Choice.
The horse has struggled for consistency over the last three seasons but as a former winner of the Welsh National is suited to the course. He can be useful when things fall into place and that was the case at Haydock last Saturday. Emperor’s Choice plugged on to win when others had had enough but the race was only seven days ago. However, off bottom weight Emperor’s Choice looks a good bet at 20/1. Paddy Power and Betfair are paying out on the first five.
Chepstow and Sandown stage the only Graded races of the day but both are at the highest level. We Have A Dream could have run in the all-aged Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown but has been declared for the four-year-old race at Chepstow. In running against his own age group the horse has a great opportunity to win a Grade 1 contest. We Have A Dream has been impressive in winning both starts for his yard and has the potential to go right to the top in the novice hurdle division.
In the absence of We Have A Dream the Tolworth Hurdle looks open and there were two overnight joint favourites. Western Ryder and Kalashnikov have the same Racing Post Ratings but Mont Des Avaloirs has a marginal advantage on the figures. Significantly the horse is proven on testing ground and could show more improvement than the two leading contenders in the prevailing condition. However, before placing any bets you should monitor the rainfall at Chepstow and Sandown.