Will there be a Christmas miracle at Chepstow on Thursday as last year's first four return for the festive period's most popular betting heat?
The Welsh Grand National takes centre stage on December 27, with the Colin Tizzard-trained Elegant Escape favourite in the Welsh National betting market at 6/1 (William Hill), but those famouse four are back for more: Raz De Maree (25/1 William Hill), Alfie Spinner (40/1 William Hill), Final Nudge (25/1 Ladbrokes) and Vintage Clouds (12/1 Black Type).
What is the Welsh Grand National?
The Welsh National is a 3m5.5f marathon handicap chase, run over 22 fences. It invariably takes place on soft or heavy going and tests the stamina reserves of all the contenders.
Welsh Grand National winners sometimes go on to Aintree Grand National glory, not necessarily in the same calendar year, but a good showing in this Monmouthshire event usually sows the seeds for a crack at the Merseyside equivalent.
The Welsh roll of honour includes Aintree Grand National winners, the likes of Corbiere in 1982, Earth Summit in 1997, Bindaree in 2003 and Silver Birch in 2004 as well as Cheltenham Gold Cup winners; Burrough Hill Lad in 1983, Cool Ground in 1990, Master Oats in 1994 and Synchronised in 2010. Some true chasing greats have graced this race over the years.
Welsh Grand National 2018 Trends
- 10/10 winners ran in the last 55 days
- 9/10 winners finished in the first four last time out
- 9/10 winners won over 3m+ at a left-handed track
- 9/10 winners had finished in the first three in a Listed or Graded Chase
- Only one favourite has won in the last 10 years (Native River, 11-4f in 2016)
Can the Welsh National favourite win this year?
Elegant Escape comes into the Welsh Grand National as the favourite off the back of his performance at Newbury in the Ladbrokes Trophy, where he was beaten by his stablemate Sizing Tennessee. That form is good, but is it solid enough to warrant being a 6/1 shot in a 20-runner handicap? We don't think so.
Close behind Elegant Escape in the betting is the David Pipe-trained Ramses De Teillee and the 7/1 on offer with Paddy Power should be snapped up quickly, because he is very likely to be the new favourite come 2.50pm on December 27.
The six-year-old won the Welsh Grand National Trial Handicap Chase last time out when going off the 2/1 favourite and his jumping was impeccable at Chepstow that day. Admittedly Thursday’s race is over a slightly longer trip, but it should not pose him any problems.
The only worry for both Elegant Escape and Ramses De Teillee is a statistical one in that just three six-year-olds have won the Welsh National since 1948, so it is something to bear in mind when placing your bets.
Welsh National 2018 Best Bet
He narrowly missed out on making the cut for the Grand National last April and instead ran in the Scottish version, where he finished an admiral third. He won on his seasonal return at Haydock over their stiff fences and appears to be firing on all cylinders again this term.
Welsh Grand National Each-Way Bet:
Trading at 40/1 with Bet365 is the Lucy Wadham-trained Shanroe Santos (NB) and he is worth an each-way interest at a price.
He is a sound jumper and has contested some very decent distance races in his career thus far. He will be completely at home in the ground and is a real grinder who stays all day.