Chepstow Preview, 27/12/19

Chepstow
Friday December 27th

Chepstow 2.50
Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase
Class 1 Grade 3
3m6f130y – Going: Soft (Heavy in places) – 17 runners

Elegant Escape
Last year’s Welsh National winner; after a laboured staying-on 2nd to Ballyoptic in Charlie Hall at Wetherby on reappearance, had blinkers applied and was a staying-in 3rd, beaten 2 lengths, to De Rasher Counter in Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, on the first circuit having more in front than behind, surviving a mistake at the 12th but really staying on strongly from the fourth last. In the mix again if the headgear has the same effect
Yala Enki
In this race last year was 3rd to Elegant Escape, led starting home turn, hard ridden from 4 out, headed 3 out, driven and stayed on, began to fade nearing 2 out, no extra under strong pressure approaching last. On first start for Paul Nicholls, cut no ice when midfield in Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, disputed lead, chased leader from 6th, led 8th, niggled along before hit 15th, headed and pushed along after 16th, well held 4 out, no more. Getting no help from the handicapper and not sure if he can improve on last year
West Approach
Only seven ran when winning the 3m3f Grade 3 handicap chase at Cheltenham in November from Achille, moved well enough in 6 lengths 6th going down the hill past omitted 3 out, started to pass rivals and going best home turn, niggled along approaching 2 out, soon ridden, disputed 2nd last under a ride, ridden, switched near side (stands’ side), ran on when in the clear to draw away; was in rear when unseating the rider 7th in the bigger field in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, back to his best when a staying-on 3rd to Cogry at Cheltenham earlier this month. Bigger field and tendency to make mistakes put me off
Now McGinty*
Front-runner who won a 3m novice chase at Chepstow in January (beating De Rasher Counter), was runner-up in Reynoldstown at Ascot subsequently. Reappearance, made most as usual when giving Santini a race in intermediate at Sandown in November, holding every chance at the last and just losing out on the run-in. Slight query about the trip, but nothing not to like otherwise
Potters Corner
Got the better of a dour slog against Ms Parfois in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter last March. After a couple of modest efforts bounced back to form with a win over hurdles at Chepstow at the last meeting on December 7th, moved best in front 3 out, ridden 2 out, headed, put under pressure, stayed on approaching last, upsides jumping, strong run under pressure to lead 150 yards out, ridden out to beat Remastered. Conditions all in his favour
The Two Amigos*
Always first two when winning Sussex National at Plumpton last January, pushed along approaching 2 out, the better jump, stayed on under a push between last 2, was a length up last, hard driven, stayed on well run-in to beat Calin Du Brizais. Back to form when 3rd to One Of Us in Southern National at Fontwell last month, niggled along in front before 4 out, ridden into 3 out, led a length there, went through 2 out, hard driven, headed approaching last, faded, looked held last, driven, kept on, one pace last 150 yards. This slog looks all for him
Truckers Lodge*
Useful handicap hurdler: back to form over fences with a beginners-win at Chepstow on October 29th, always first pair, chased Johanos after 13th, pushed along 5 out, 2 lengths behind 4 out, stayed on under a ride from 3 out, disputed lead 2 out, ridden and chased leader as 1st 2 pulled clear going to last, led jumping, driven out, stayed on, held on well last 125 yards. Favourably treated on hurdles form
Pobbles Bay
In this race in January 2018 was a tailed-off 7th to Raz De Maree, weakening in the straight. Best form in ages when winning West Wales National at Ffos Las in April on good ground, reached for 3 out and went 2nd, pushed along, moved upsides 2 out, carried head to one side briefly when pushed along, led last, ridden, perhaps had a think about it but asserted half a furlong out, not hard ridden once in front when beating Kingswell Theatre. Good reappearance when 2nd to the in-form Sirobbie at Uttoxeter in October, coming from the back to hold every chance from 3 out to the next but beaten off approaching last; as good a run when 4th to Champers On Ice at Ffos Las next time. Not badly treated but likely to chuck in a mistake at some point
Pop Rockstar
Had seemed progressive until last time out, with a winning reappearance at Carlisle in October, moved comfortably enough when jumping 4 out in 4th, ridden, stayed on well from 2 out, led last, ridden out and won going away from Aasleagh Dawn, not stopping at the end, but was tailed off behind West Approach at Cheltenham last month, held up, mistakes 10th and 12th, niggled along 14th, ridden along going down the hill past omitted 3 out, couldn’t find more and looked held under a ride home turn, weakened, tailed off last. Might not have been suited by Cheltenham and not out of this
Arthur’s Gift
Strong performance to win at Carlisle last February, pushed along approaching home turn, made ground on 1st 3, every chance 4 out, moved best approaching 3 out, chased leader approaching 2 out, the better jump, led between last 2, effort delayed, the better jump last, finally shaken up in earnest run-in, stayed on well, ridden out to beat Len Brennan, the further he went the better he looked. Further progress last time in Anne Duchess Of Westminster Chase at Bangor last time, 2nd to Graceful Legend, albeit off the bit a long way out, midfield on outer when coming under a ride 3 out, stayed on approaching 2 out, no more under pressure approaching last, mistake, kept on, no impression. Not much Chepstow form, and was behind Pop Rockstar at Carlisle in October, but unexposed
Prime Venture
Plenty of Chepstow form last season, probably the best when 2nd in Welsh Grand National Trial in early December 2018, keeping on when mistake 3 out, chance of 2nd when went through 2 out, hard driven, stayed on, jumped last in 2nd, put under pressure, stayed on, pulled clear of 2nd, no chance with Ramses De Teillee but stuck to task well under a ride. Still yet to win a chase, was a good 4th to Truckers Lodge in beginners’ at Chepstow when last seen out. Doesn’t go from the front but stays well and well treated
Virginia Chick
At this meeting last year won the staying handicap hurdle, chased  Truckers Lodge from 2 out, travelled much the best, 1st 2 pulled clear, at most niggled along approaching last, put under strong pressure on landing, stayed on well, edged left, asserted final 100 yards. Only raced in three chases and won a Class 2 novice at Exeter in November, was 4 lengths down when given slaps down the neck home turn, edged closer from 4 out, some 3 lengths behind 3 out, not shaken up as produced to challenge 2 out, at most niggled along when drew upsides approaching last, hard ridden, stayed on well to assert over Commodore Barry final 100 yards. Was well below form when 7th to Notachance at Exeter on November 13th; given a break since, although not well treated could play a part
Field Exhibition
Normally races over 2m4f or shorter, but did win a 3m handicap hurdle at Musselburgh last season, albeit only three ran. Stepped up in grade to Listed mares’ level, was acquitting herself well despite her 25/1 SP against Magic Of Light at Newbury, the winner beginning to assert when Field Exhibition unseated at the last. Not bred to stay (half-brother Omega Springs was a two-miler) and not for me
Captain Chaos
Remains as inconsistent as they come, but in first-time cheekpieces ran one of his better races when a staying-on 2nd to Takingrisks in Rehearsal at Newcastle on November 30th, picking up the pieces as Jonniesofa and Top Ville Ben faded and unable to match the winner in the last 100 yards. With no form to his name in three visits to Chepstow, not for me
Space Cadet
No wins to this one’s name since taking a 2m beginners’ chase at Roscommon in October 2016. Probably best run ever over fences was when 2nd to Pairofbrowneyes in Leinster National over 2m7f at Gowran Park (moved from Naas that year) on 10th March 2018, chased leader going to 8th, shaken up home turn, chased winner from 3 out, every chance 2 out, put under pressure and fading when stumbled on landing last, hard driven, stayed on one pace last 150 yards – genuine effort in difficult conditions. Only start this season, was below his best when 4th to Chris’s Dream in Troytown at Navan on November 24th, beaten 25 lengths. With no form to his name in three runs over 3m4f (form 4PP, beaten 19 lengths when completing), not for me over the trip
Rathlin Rose
No form yet this season, tailed off behind Diesel D’Allier in cross-country at Cheltenham last month then was in the void London National at Sandown and was tailed off when pulled up before the Pond Fence on the final circuit. Sandown and Ascot are his top venues – not won anywhere else since 2015 – and with double-digit defeats when completing in eight starts over 3m3f or more, not for me
Looks Like Power
Exposed performer who’s 7 lbs out of the handicap; at this meeting last year was behind Virginia Chick in the staying handicap hurdle, held up, had moved into 4th some 6 lengths away when in close to 2 out, hard driven, kept on one pace approaching last under pressure, no extra run-in. On reappearance (often gone well fresh), didn’t cut much ice under an exaggerated hold-up ride in Welsh National Trial at Chepstow earlier in the month behind Acting Lass, held up last, mistake 4th, keen, in close to 7th, mistake 10th, started a move and made ground and a place 13th moving comfortably, travelled best going to 3 out but 2 lengths down, couldn’t find more, weakening when mistake 3 out, well back in 4th when not fluent 2 out, no more. Hard to fancy 

Shortlist: Now McGinty, The Two Amigos, Truckers Lodge

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