Christmas is on the way and along with it some of the best quality racing in the national hunt calendar. The Grand National that takes place in summer has everybody in the office backing a horse in the sweepstakes and friends who ordinarily take no interest in racing gathering around to watch.
It’s a real shame that the Welsh Grand National doesn’t generate the same level of excitement because there have been some truly world-class performances over the years.
If you’d like to make an event of the Welsh Grand National this year then we’ve got tips on everything, whether you’re looking for tips on which horse to bet on or want to know more about the history of the race. So, if you’re looking for some festive racing, carry on reading.
A Bit of Background
The Welsh Grand National started in 1949 and has remained at Chepstow racecourse ever since. It’s run over a distance of three miles and six furlongs and horses jump 21 obstacles along the route. It’s a grade three race, open to four-year-old horses or older, and currently, carries a purse of £150,000 to be shared between the winners and places.
The 2009 running of the race has been adapted into a film not once but twice, thanks to the unlikely win of a horse named Dream Alliance. This horse was bred from a cheap broodmare by a syndicate that formed in a local pub.
Though they had hoped the horse would go on to win a couple of races, they had no idea it would win such an important race. Understandably the story of Dream Alliance inspired many and it would be brilliant to see something similar achieved this year.
It makes sense to start off the tips with the horse that bookmakers are all in agreement will be the one to romp home. Based on Bovada’s horse betting odds, Quick Wave is currently around 6/1 to win and miles ahead of the others. The nine-year-old mare is French-bred and spent some time steeplechasing in France before moving to the Venetia Williams yard in 2018.
A move like this takes a while to get used to, with horses needing time to settle into not just a new yard and training regime, but an entirely different country as well. British courses are different from ones in France and it seemed as though Quick Wave took a little time to get used to her slightly altered job.
However, with that said, Venetia Williams did begin to see improvements in the horse. Whilst she’d never won a race in France, by 2020 she’d got a first-place finish under her belt in a class 3 mares handicap chase. Whilst it wasn’t a huge win, the hope was that it would spur the horse on to bigger and better things.
Yet, from her next six races, she managed only one more win, but instead of feeling dejected about it, Williams realized that what this mare needed was a breathing operation.
In 2021 she had wind surgery and came back to racing on the 10th of January this year. It had worked. She absolutely stormed home in a class 3 handicap chase, 14 lengths ahead of the opposition. She wasn’t to return to the track again until the 3rd of December for the Winners Wear Cavani Menswear London National Handicap Chase, in which she, again, stormed past the post in first place, never looking like she was in any danger.
Whilst this might seem like a patchy record for a strong favorite, it does seem as though the wind surgery has been genuinely transformative for this mare. Not only that, but her last two runs have been over 3m1½f and 3m5f respectively, showing that she has what it takes to stay the distance, not something that many of the others in this field can claim.
Ask Me Early
There are some horses that are just course specialists and that couldn’t be truer than with our next and final tip, Ask Me Early. This horse has a pretty solid record with five wins and three third places out of 10 races under rules. Of those five wins, three of them were at Chepstow, as well as one of the third places, meaning Ask Me Early has never finished out of the prize money at the course.
It’s clear that he enjoys a left-handed course, as his other wins came at Kinsale and Uttoxeter, both left-handed tracks. So, we know that the course suits him, but what about the other factors?
Like Quick Wave, Ask Me Early also had wind surgery in 2021 and bounced back from it well. His recent form shows that his first race back he won the Betway Supports Safer Gambling Week Novices’ Hurdle. He won his following outing too, a novice hurdle at Chepstow, but since his return to chasing he’s yet to find a win.
However, his most recent race was by no means a disaster, where he finished third behind Le Milos and Lord du Mesnil. He wasn’t the most fluent jumper on this outing, but if he can find his form at Chepstow then he’s one that Quick Wave should be looking out for.
PHOTO: JTW Equine Images, Past The Wire