Welsh National Preview
Bayan did us proud battling well to win the Ladbroke Hurdle before Christmas and today we have two cracking handicaps to try and solve. The Welsh National is always a tremendous race and last year’s victor and runner-up in Mountainous and Hawkes Point are back to do battle all over again. They are big players without doubt but this is reflected in their prices and I will take one of them as well as a much bigger priced low weight.
This race is a gruelling test of stamina right up Monbeg Dude’s alley but carrying 11-9 will prove a huge challenge. Monbeg Dude is not a potential gold cup winner like Synchronized who won this race carrying 11-6 back in 2011. The two I like arrive in good form and are Rebeccas Choice & Hawkes Point. Each carries less than 10-12 and are rated around 138 which is a very strong statistic for finding the winner of the Welsh National.
Rebeccas Choice won the Welsh National trial here at the beginning of this Month staying on nicely to win cosily from Amigo. The step up in trip will suit him better than the runner-up and a 4lb penalty should not prevent the Dai Burchell inmate from running another big race. Robert Dunne knows him well and Rebeccas Choice course form is a big plus having won and finished third at the track in five starts.
Hawkes Point is rather obvious and no surprise to see him near the top of the market. He went agonisingly close last year to winning this race where the winner Mountainous got the run of the race around the inner throughout. Paul Nicholls has him back on a very competitive handicap mark and employs a 5lb claimer Sean Bowen to ensure conditions are in his favour. However, the key factor in selecting his horse is how well he ran in the Welsh National trial behind Rebeccas Choice a few weeks ago. He jumped super that day and stayed on well to finish third running a much better trial than Mountainous.
Paul Nicholls is enjoying a tremendous season and Hawkes Point can give him another big Saturday Win. He has a proven track record and will enjoy the rain softened ground. Hawkes Point chance is there for all to see and he should be 7/1 favourite in my book so the 10/1 available represents good value.
Selection A –1 Point *EW Rebeccas Choice Chepstow 14:35 (25/1 William Hill & Coral else 20/1 generally)
Selection B – 1 Point *EW Hawkes Point Chepstow 14:35 (10/1 generally skybet & racebets paying 5 places)
Paddy Power Handicap Preview
Foxrock is the correct favourite in this race and if he was available at 12/1 as he was two weeks ago he would be top of the list. However, his current price (5/1) is shocking poor value in a major big field handicap and that counts even if he wins today. Double digit prices are what’s required to turn a profit long term in big field handicaps and thankfully Foxrock and his legion of backers are doing us a big favour creating a lob sided market.
Owega Star is a massive price at 14/1 considering his run in the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan back in November. On that day he beat all bar the heavily gambled on Balbriggan on just his eight chasing start. Davy Russell must surely have felt he had the race won rounding the bottom bend with Balbriggan well within his sights only for Owega Star to let him down by not fully seeing out the trip. The official ground that day was soft but the times of all the races as pointed out on the Racing Post website show the ground was heavy. That is a key point regarding today’s race as on yielding ground and an even more patient ride Owega Star has every chance of running all the way to the line today.
My Murphy is the second selection following a very good run when a staying on sixth behind Balbriggan and Owega Star in the Troytown Chase. Yes, I rate the Troytown Chase form very strongly as a pointer to winning today’s three mile handicap. This has been backed up with Rockyaboya winning last year as well as Cross Appeal back in 2011.
My Murphy looked to blow up in the Troytown Handicap having got into a great position approaching the third last fence. He lost his position before powering home faster than any horse including Groody Hill after the last jump. This was My Murphy’s seasonal debut so he is sure to have progressed and will be cherry ripe today.
This horse competed at a very high level in staying novice hurdle races and looks well handicapped off a rating of 141. His trainer Willie Burke mentioned that My Murphy “likes light at his fences” and that is a concern in such a big field of runners but he coped well in the 25 runner “Troytown” and has a good chance of landing this big pot on route to targeting an Irish Grand National.
Selection A –1 Point *EW Owega Star Leopardstown 14:55 (14/1 Paddy Power & Betfair Sportsbook both paying 5 places else 12/1 generally but look for bookie paying out 5 places)
Selection B – 1 Point *EW My Murphy Leopardstown 14:55 (20/1 Betvictor else 18/1 Bet365 paying 5 places, 16/1 generally but look for bookie paying out 5 places)