Talking Horses: tips for Chepstow and Newbury in our daily racing blog

December 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

A big field of handicap chasers running more than three and a half miles on heavy ground should ensure that the Coral Welsh National is a spectacle, though whether it will be a particularly edifying one is down to personal taste. A race in which survival is all that matters can still be memorable for all manner of reasons, as Paul Carberry demonstrated in this race last year with a breathtaking display of horsemanship on Monbeg Dude. The demands and conditions of this race in particular, however, often seem to result in horses coming to the final few fences with scarcely the energy to run, never mind jump.

There have been five renewals of the Welsh National on heavy ground since the turn of the century and the weights carried to victory were 10st 8lb, 10st 5lb, 10st 4lb and 10st 1lb twice. Only two winners in that time had more than 11st to carry and one of those was Sychronised, who proved good enough to win a Gold Cup. The presence of Tidal Bay in this year’s line-up, however, means that all bar last year’s Lexus Chase winner carries 10st 7lb or less, while the eight horses at the bottom of the list are all out of the handicap.

The task is to find a horse with a touch of class with proven stamina and a low weight and Jim Dreaper’s Goonyella (2.35) has the ideal profile. He stayed on strongly to win on heavy ground over three and three quarter miles at Punchestown in April and, though he is 11lb higher here, he remains one of the least exposed runners in the field at a marathon trip.

Newbury 1.15 A disappointing field for a decent prize but Denali Highway improved throughout last season, winning off 105, 115 and then 121, and did enough when second off 128 on his seasonal debut to suggest that his progress has not stopped yet. No Planning, who beat him by a length and a quarter, has since run second in a Grade Two contest off a 4lb higher mark.

Chepstow 1.30 Moorlands Mist cruised to victory over course and distance on good-to-soft going earlier this month, when Brackloon High and Lookout Mountain, who reoppose, finished second and fourth. Philip Hobbs’s hurdler is 10lb higher here but looked value for that and more last time and, while the heavy ground is also a concern, he may have the class to take the step up in his stride.

Newbury 1.45 A fascinating Grade Two contest, with all six runners in with a chance on their best form and not a double-figure price in sight. Four arrive on the back of impressive wins last time out, though the first bookie up with prices put up Oscar Rock, who was only second on his latest start, as the narrow favourite. The horse who beat him was Ballyalton, who went on to win what was probably the best novice hurdle of the season so far at Cheltenham earlier this month, but overall his form does not give Oscar Rock the chance his price might suggest. Shantou Magic is suggested as a horse at decent odds that could show more improvement than most but no outcome would be a surprise.

Chepstow 2.00 Solar Impulse has no domestic form to offer but he has been to a British track, when he was chosen to gallop with Big Buck’s at Exeter earlier this month. Paul Nicholls made it clear afterwards that he is held in high regard at Ditcheat and his 11-length win in a juvenile event at Auteuil last time gives Solar Impulse every chance as he makes his British debut in a Grade One.

Leopardstown 2.55 The first and second from last season’s Gold Cup renew their rivalry but this is far from a two-horse race. Bobs Worth, the Gold Cup winner, has a little to prove after a lifeless display in the Betfair Chase and could be an uneasy favourite but Sir Des Champs, too, made a poor start to the campaign when an early faller in the John Durkan Memorial Chase. At the prices Unioniste makes most appeal to continue the outstanding form of the Paul Nicholls yard. A leading novice last season, above all when the ground was testing, he is both fit and in form. He will be in his element if this turns into a slog over the final two fences.

Chepstow 3.10 A mediocre event to conclude the televised card. Renard’s has been raised 8lb for his recent course-and-distance win but has been competitive off higher marks than this in the past.

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