Horse Racing Tips: Welsh National 2021 Preview
A Christmas highlight at Chepstow since 1979, the Welsh National is a prestigious and valuable race in its own right, but also serves as a trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National.
Last year’s winner, Secret Reprieve, heads the ante-post market but, with his return to action delayed by unseasonably dry weather, is not certain to defend his crown.
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Secret Reprieve is running out of time
Interviewed in mid-November, trainer Evan Williams told the ‘Racing Post’ that he was ‘desperate’ to start off Secret Reprieve (8/1 with Bet365) and conceded that he was a ‘long way’ from getting his stable star back to Chepstow on December 27. According to the Met Office, the outlook for late November and December is unsettled, with wetter than average conditions for most parts of the country, but it remains to be seen if rain arrives quickly enough for Secret Reprieve. The Flemensfirth gelding defied loose tack when comfortably beating Two Amigos last year and still looks well treated off a 6lb higher mark but, even so, makes little appeal from an ante-post perspective.
Ask Me Early has stamina to prove
Ask Me Early (9/1 with William Hill) has yet to win beyond 3 miles, but is, nonetheless, 3-4 over regulation fences and clearly well-suited by plenty of cut in the ground. He twice made all the running to win over an extended 2 miles 7 furlongs at Chepstow last season and advertised his well-being by winning over hurdles on his reappearance at Exeter in November. He has potential, but this race represents a thorough examination of stamina, and jumping ability, for one so inexperienced.
Time To Get Up is on a retrieval mission
Time To Get Up (12/1 with Paddy Power) has no stamina doubts, having justified favouritism in the Midlands Grand National, over 4 miles 2 furlongs, at Uttoxeter on his final start last season. However, he has questions to answer after running inexplicably badly in the Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree in his reappearance in early November. Even allowing for the fact that he was tackling the Grand National fences for the first time, he was, frankly, too bad to be true, so he is probably best watched for the time being.
Next Destination ticks all the boxes
Paul Nicholls reported Next Destination (14/1 with Unibet) ‘ready for his life’ ahead of the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November, but the progressive second-season chaser missed his intended engagement after failing to eat up overnight. Described by Nicholls as ‘an out-and-out stayer who gallops forever and jumps nicely’, Next Destination finished a close second to Galvin in the National Hunt Challenge Cup on his first attempt beyond 3 miles at Cheltenham last March. All being well, this could be the perfect race for him.
Mighty Thunder is no forlorn hope
Trained in Scotland, by Lucinda Russell, Mighty Thunder (20/1 with Bet365) is already a dual ‘National’ winner, having won the Edinburgh National at Musselburgh and the Scottish Grand National at Ayr last season. He probably ran as well as could be expected when a remote fourth, at 66/1, in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on his reappearance, but should find the rigours of this race much more to his liking. Presumaby, connections won’t be sending him on the long trip south for the benefit of the Welsh air and the hint may be worth taking.
Obviously, the Welsh National is a handicap, so it’s possible to make a case for any number of entries. However, the race has thrown up its fair share of Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders down the years and, while it would be bold to include Next Destination in that category at this early stage, Paul Nicholls is considering an entry in the ‘Blue Riband’ event.
Selection: Next Destination (14/1 with Unibet)
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