Chepstow Race Preview, 09/01/2021

Chepstow, Saturday January 9th

Precautionary Inspection 08:00

Chepstow 3.10
Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase Class 1 Grade 3
(Run in memory of Kim Gingell)
3m6f130y – Going: Heavy – 18 runners

 Yala Enki
In last year’s race was a good 3rd to Potters Corner, made some of the running, every chance 4 out as pushed along and moved upsides leader, ridden and chased leaders 3 out, one pace from 2 out, some 3 lengths down last, driven, kept on, no impression last 100 yards – saw it out well and not disgraced. Good reappearance at Cheltenham over 3m3f in November,  disputed lead 3 out, along with Ramses De Teillee moved best of the field approaching home turn, came wide approaching 2 out, headed, hard ridden, stayed on and at most half a length down jumping last, put under strong pressure, found extra 150 yards out and drew upsides winner, could have gone either way, just chinned post. Fell 1st in Becher Chase at Aintree when last seen, but despite a high mark has good claims
Truckers Lodge*
Ran in this last year as a novice and did very well to be runner-up to Potters Corner, tracked leaders, effort 4 out, chased winner from 2 out, driven and 2 lengths down last, stayed on under pressure, closed on winner last 75 yards but always held; won Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter on only subsequent start, up with the pace,  pushed along from 3 out, pushed along and stayed on from 2 out, clear and safe last, ridden out, unchallenged by 18 lengths from Captain Drake. Only start this season went anything but well, at Kelso in October in race won by the appropriately-named Some Chaos, led, jumped right 1st bumping rival (setting off a chain reaction that put three of his rivals on the floor), ridden into 4th, headed 7th, not fluent 9th, chased leader when blundered and unseated rider 12th. We could have done with him completing that race so we know where we’re at, but he wasn’t doing badly at the time he departed the Kelso race
Ramses De Teillee*
In the 2018 renewal was 2nd to Elegant Escape, closing on leader when blundered 4 out, stayed on from 3 out, half a chance 2 out, hard driven, a length down last, no extra last 100 yards. After spending most of last season over hurdles, returned to fences and did everything but win in the 3m3f handicap chase at Cheltenham on November 15th, disputed lead 3 out, along with Yala Enki moved best of the field approaching home turn, came wide approaching 2 out, hit it, ridden, led approaching last, 1st 2 drew clear, hard driven up the hill, stayed on well, was closed on last 125 yards, could have gone either way, just got up post. Failed to take to the National fences (second time in as many tries) in Becher Chase at Aintree last time, mistakes and weakened 3 out, tailed off behind Vieux Lion Rouge. Yet to finish out of the 1st 2 at Chepstow, he ought to go well again
Lord Du Mesnil
Very much proved suited by extreme distances last season, in Haydock Grand National Trial was in front to the last and caught only by Smooth Stepper prior to running 2nd in National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, went 3 lengths up 11th, jumped right 12th, not so far ahead next, left clear 16th, pressed on from 20th, was closed on approaching 3 out and was joined jumping, ridden approaching home turn, found extra turning in and disputed lead as 1st 2 pulled clear, together 2 out, ridden and stayed on, hit last, couldn’t go with Ravenhill, hard driven, stayed on, stuck to task but no impression last 150 yards. This season, for some reason he’s run over trips short of his best, made a lot of use of till dropping away after mistakes in novice hurdle at Kelso on reappearance before running over only 2m5f in Grand Sefton at Aintree,  lost place 13th, well back under a ride 15th, ridden and keeping on a bit when blundered 2 out, well back last, weakened, tailed off at the Elbow, beaten 45 lengths behind Beau Bay. This is a more suitable test
Cloudy Glen
Attempted an extreme trip for the first time when taking in the Southern National at Fontwell on reappearance and won, held up, edged closer 3 out and not yet asked for an effort in doing so, nudged along 2 out and drew upsides, readily led and drew 3 lengths clear by last, pushed along, stayed on well to beat Christmas In April 13 lengths. The suspicion is that none of his rivals were at their best, and last time at Sandown in the London National was found wanting, detached last 12th, a little headway back straight, moved more comfortably than some but a bit to do after 3 out (normally 4 out), good ground to go 3rd, niggled along and carried head to one side passing omitted 3 out, driven along home turn, hard ridden and no impression on 1st 2 from 2 out, well held when mistake last, 5th beaten nearly 16 lengths behind Doing Fine, who was behind him at Fontwell. Has misbehaved at the start and been led in before, and ran out 1st at Cheltenham last January, so temperament a worry, as are the usual hold-up tactics, which usually don’t work in this race
The Hollow Ginge 
Only win last season when tending to jump left on his way to beating only other finisher Late Romantic at Leicester last January, led,  stayed on approaching 4 out, was closed on before jumped left then left clear 3 out, ridden into 2 out, stayed on under a hand ride going to last, jumped it 3 lengths up, hard ridden, stayed on well; did nothing in National Hunt Chase subsequently, not fluent 9th, blundered 11th, struggling when went right and nearly off the course 17th, tried to refuse 18th, barely clambered over it and pulled up. Not blameless for his first-fence departure at Kelso in race won by Some Chaos on his reappearance (led or disputed when overjumped and went left, collided with rival and fell 1st) and his 4th to Cloth Cap in Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury was unexpected, first-time visored; dropped to rear by 7th, mistake 11th, a little ground after 16th, pushed along 17th, headway and midfield 4 out, kept on 3 out, stuck to task approaching 2 out, hard driven and hung left between last 2, no impression approaching last. He still needed persuasion to do anything there and he’s not for me, as he comes here with a tendency to make mistakes and is unproven over extreme trips
Vieux Lion Rouge
On his only previous attempt at this race he was pulled up in the 2018 renewal won by Elegant Escape, led till pushed along and headed starting home turn, looked tired and got heavy-legged approaching 4 out, started to weaken, dropping away when pulled up before 3 out. With the exception of a veterans’ chase at Chepstow in October 2019, the only race he’s shown his form in since 2017 has been the Becher Chase at Aintree and he won the latest renewal, midfield when ridden into 12th, tracked leaders 16th, chased leader 18th, with leaders approaching 2 out, led there, niggled along and not hard pressed to draw clear by last, pushed out and stayed on well to draw well clear by the Elbow, was the proverbial street ahead of Kimberlite Candy at the line. There’s a good chance that nothing else gave its running in the Becher but given his previous attempt here, gut feeling is to swerve
Springfield Fox*
Good start over fences last season winning his first two chases, including when making all at Exeter on heavy in February,  hit 14th, pushed along home turn, stayed on, drew clear from 4 out, safe from 2 out, some 15 lengths up last, unchallenged from Ocean Cove; had a bit of bad luck in National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, along with Lord Du Mesnil broke clear of rest by 6th, mistake 9th and headed, 1st 2 not so far ahead 10th, was bumped 12th, mistake and unseated rider 16th. Reappearance over hurdles at Chepstow on December 5th, a length and a bit up but not going best approaching 3 out,  there, stayed on under a firm hand ride, half a length up 2 out, hard ridden, readily headed approaching last, soon well held, some 3 or 4 lengths behind last, kept on, no impression behind Oscar Elite. Usually leads and is one of the least exposed in the field
The Two Amigos
In last year’s race was 5th to Potters Corner, led after 12th,  was joined 4 out and pushed along, ridden and headed 3 out, kept on from 2 out, faded after last, lost ground on 1st 4 last 150 yards – his jumping held but, after a positive ride, he didn’t see out the race. Has run well both starts this season, in Anne Duchess Of Westminster Memorial at Bangor led 10th, pushed along home turn, headed 2 out, ridden along, faded approaching last, hard driven and kept on run-in, closed a little on runner-up final strides, beaten 7 lengths behind Notachance, and was in the Welsh National Trial at Chepstow on December 5th, pushed along approaching 2 out, headed, one pace approaching last (normally 2 out), hard driven passing omitted last, not the remotest impression on Secret Reprieve and beaten 12 lengths. There’s likely to be a lot of competition for the lead but if things drop his way, he’s not out of it
Big River
Best run last season when just over 3 lengths 5th to The Conditional in Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last March, lost place first circuit, ridden along after 17th, outpaced 3 out, put under pressure, stayed on approaching home turn, closing a little 2 out, continued to close approaching last and jumped it 4 lengths down, sustained effort up the hill, no extra close home and nearest finish. Didn’t run a race at all at Cheltenham in November on reappearance behind Ramses De Teillee and Yala Enki, moved comfortably at the top of the hill after 19th, disputed 4th and lost touch with leaders on downhill run to 3 out, pushed along after, outpaced and left behind home turn, kept on into well-held 4th 2 out, put under pressure, mistake last, kept on and took poor 3rd from weakening rival 125 yards out, tailed off. Another noteworthy run on his record is his 5th to Takingrisks in 2019 Scottish Grand National after a hold-up ride – passed a few before 2 out but well held some 15 to 18 lengths behind leaders between last 2, effort after last and strong late ground; usually midfield or worse through the race which isn’t ideal for this race, but on this ground (if it is heavy, as is being given) then given that he has four wins and a 2nd on officially heavy going, he might well turn up late
Dominateur
At this meeting last season won the novices’ handicap chase, niggled along to make a start, raced last, headway 11th, raced wide, ridden into 12th, travelled a bit better than earlier in the race and closed on leaders home turn, ridden into 5 out,  hard driven 4 out, in close to 3 out, hard driven, stayed on under strong pressure between last 2, just about upsides last, soon led, driven out, found extra last 125 yards to beat Clondaw Anchor; subsequently had his first go at a National in the Midlands version and didn’t do well, pushed along and struggling after 17th, mistake 19th, finally passed a few under a ride by 21st, detached from leading group but keeping on a bit when not fluent 4 out, no extra from there, tailed off 2 out behind Truckers Lodge. Only run so far this season, wasn’t expected to do anything against Pym and If The Cap Fits in Future Stars at Sandown and sure enough didn’t, any amount of mistakes, closed on the other 2 turning out of back straight, ridden and left behind after 3 out, well held when mistake 2 out, no more. Neither of those two has built on their efforts, but in Dominateur’s favour is that he’s never been out of the 1st 3 on four visits to Chepstow. Hard to fancy strongly as he’s hard work for the jockey, but hard to leave out
Captain Drake
Did okay in his novice season and was 2nd in Midlands National last March, hard driven after 4 out, couldn’t go with 1st 2 approaching 3 out, again driven and found extra approaching 2 out, took 2nd then mistake there, kept on but not getting to Truckers Lodge when blundered last. One of the rwsteeplechasing.co.uk 15 To Follow for the season and started off well enough with a win over hurdles at Uttoxeter in October, but I’ve been wishing I could swap him after his last two runs, returned to fences – at Cheltenham in November behind Ramses De Teillee and Yala Enki jumped slow and lost place 7th, niggled along, made up ground and tracked leaders 12th, lost place again and pushed along in one from last 16th, became detached last 17th, tailed off 19th, pulled up before 3 out; at least completed the Welsh National Trial at Chepstow last time but that was it, prominent 10th, lost place and midfield/pushed along 11th, ridden and no extra turning out of back straight, kept on a bit before brushed 4 out, no more from 2 out, well held last (normally 2 out), weakened extended run-in, 5th beaten 33 lengths behind Secret Reprieve. Now in a first-time tongue-strap; three of the stable’s last nine runners with a first-time tongue-tie have won (since January 2020) – no idea what to expect but last season’s form, as well as the hurdles reappearance-win, give him claims
Prime Venture
In last year’s Welsh National was 4th to Potters Corner, had a chance 5 out, pushed along, put under pressure after 3 out, couldn’t go with leaders when mistake 2 out, kept on and took 4th last, driven and kept on last 150 yards; was pulled up after a couple of mistakes in the Midlands version. Only start this season, took a 3-runner 0-135 handicap chase at Sedgefield in November, all 3 in a line 18th, led outright 3 out, travelled best approaching home turn, shaken up 2 out, pushed along, stayed on, drew clear between last 2, reminder when in the clear approaching last, not hard ridden to maintain advantage run-in, readily with a bit in hand from Jack Devine. This one doesn’t do winning and it was his first victory for three years, but as last year’s run illustrates, he could easily do something (not out of the 1st 4 in five runs at Chepstow)
Joe Farrell
Best run last season when 3rd in Midlands National, made a lot of use of, mistakes and no response when Truckers Lodge went on 4 out, faded till kept on a bit from last. Not much this season, a couple of blunders behind Present Man in veterans’ chase at Chepstow, and tailed off in Becher Chase at Aintree, dropped rear by 13th, detached last and tailing off 16th, hard ridden and kept on a bit 3 out, weakened approaching home turn. Now 12, little expected
Christmas In April
Three wins last season and best effort when winning Devon National at Exeter, headed Perfect Candidate nearing the last and going clear; started favourite in Midlands National but did little, making some of the running as usual, niggled along before mistake 18th, weakened, rear and tiring when mistake 20th, tailing off when pulled up before 21st. Only start this season, was 2nd to Cloudy Glen at Fontwell in November, chased leader 13th as pace increased, niggled along for a few strides, pushed along after 15th, held place and only a neck down 3 out, put under pressure, outpaced approaching 2 out and jumped it in 4th, hard driven between last 2, well held when mistake last, driven and kept on run-in, passed a beaten rival and took well-held 2nd post, beaten 13 lengths. Not sure he’ll be doing anything here, his limitations now exposed
Bobo Mac
Mostly a good season last term, arguably his best of several good efforts at Ludlow in December 2019, tracked leaders home turn, moved well but had 4 lengths to find 3 out, disputed 2nd 2 out but no impression on Roll Again, stayed on, closed on eased winner last 150 yards. Only start this season, going off 28/1, ran 3rd to Secret Reprieve and The Two Amigos in Welsh National Trial at Chepstow last month, held up, mistake 12th, niggled along and started to make ground home turn, pushed along approaching 4 out, steadied into it, hard ridden, stayed on approaching 3 out, moved into 3rd after it, sustained effort to go 3rd approaching 2 out, not totally done with under pressure approaching last (normally 2 out), ridden and outpaced extended run-in. A year ago he was a tailed-off 7th in Classic Chase at Warwick, pushed along after 14th and 15th as started to struggle and tailed off 4 out, and an unlikely winner here, normally held up and his limitations now exposed; also unproven at the trip
Secret Reprieve
Started this season a maiden chaser, and things were going well prior to falling at Haydock in race won by Snow Leopardess on reappearance, midfield, raced freely, overjumped 6th, travelled comfortably when fell 12th. First chase win when taking the Welsh National Trial at Chepstow last month, tracked leaders 12th, niggled along approaching 4 out, chased leader 3 out, pushed along and led approaching 2 out, some 5 lengths clear last (normally 2 out), stayed on well to pull 12 lengths clear of The Two Amigos on extended run-in. Likely to stay
Calipso Collonges
Not much last season, 2nd to Lord Du Mesnil at Haydock in December 2019,  travelled comfortably turning out of back straight, niggled along approaching 4 out, ridden into it, closed up and chased winner approaching 3 out, pushed along, hard driven approaching 2 out, no impression; didn’t run again last season. Reappearance, tailed-off 4th to Vieux Lion Rouge in Becher Chase at Aintree, held up, blundered 9th, mistake 13th (Becher’s), niggled along after 18th, made ground, close up and every chance within 2 lengths 3 out, moved well enough as 1st 3 broke a little way clear approaching 2 out, blundered there, pushed along, couldn’t find more, well held last, no more final 200 yards under a ride, faded, tailed off and tired at the line, 4th beaten nearly 33 lengths. No certainty to stay this sort of trip and not for me

Shortlist: Truckers Lodge, Ramses De Teillee, Springfield Fox