2013 Welsh Grand National Preview Tips Trends
It's the Coral Welsh Grand National on Saturday, and twenty horses and riders are set to face the tapes. The trip is three miles, five and a half furlongs, and the going is heavy, so it's sure to be a serious test of stamina.
Let's start by looking at the trends for the Welsh National.
2013 Welsh Grand National Trends
- Fourteen of the last sixteen winners finished in the first four last time out. The other two winners were fifth and sixth. Do not make an excuse for a poor run from your fancy last time.
- Horses aged seven to nine have won fourteen of the last sixteen Welsh Nationals. Six year olds won the other two. Horses aged ten-plus are a combined 0 from 70 in the last sixteen years. Indeed, 28 of the last 32 winners were aged seven to nine.
- Weight stops trains, they say, and it certainly seems to have a bearing on the outcome of this race. Only the ill-fated subsequent dual Grade 1-winning (including the Cheltenham Gold Cup) Synchronised was able lug more lead than 11-03 since 1994... when subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Master Oats, carried the same weight to victory. Fourteen of the last sixteen winners carried eleven stone or less on their backs.
- Related to weight, only two horses have won the Welsh Grand National rated 150 or higher since 1994. Synchronised and Notre Pere were they, and they were both Grade 1 winners.
- All of the last sixteen winners had between two weeks and two months off the track since their last run, so came to the race with a combination of fitness and freshness.
So, the typical Welsh Grand National winner is aged seven to nine, was in the first four last time out (which was between two and nine weeks ago), and has eleven stone or less on its back.
That gives us a shortlist of Highland Lodge, Well Refreshed, Vintage Star, Hawkes Point, Mountainous and Ace High.
2013 Welsh Grand National Preview
Let's look more closely at that shortlist. It follows that winners of such a test in heavy ground should have proven form in the mud, and over a distance.
Confirmed front runner Highland Lodge should be out of trouble all the way around, and ought to give his followers a cracking run for their money. He's a winner over three and a quarter miles on heavy ground, and has had two prior runs this term, so fitness is assured. 9/1 looks fair enough, if a tad unspectacular.
Well Refreshed loves soft ground and a trip, and this Grade 3 handicap winner (on heavy and over this trip) will have his cards played late by leading amateur, Joshua Moore. He might be high enough in the handicap, but he runs under optimal conditions and was value for more than the official ten lengths verdict over distance and going. Again, the market has his measure pretty much at a best priced 9/1.
Vintage Star represents the Aintree Grand National-winning trainer/jockey combo of Sue Smith and Ryan Mania, but his overall profile looks a bit flakier than the first two named. True, he was second of 19 in a handicap hurdle a couple of years ago, but all his good form has been in small fields since, and that is not what he's up against here. Still, he should be front rank, and 16/1 is again fair enough, without being a standout wager.
Hawkes Point is Paul Nicholls' lower profile hope for the race, behind Tidal Bay, who looks to have it all to do aged twelve rising thirteen and under top weight. Ryan Mahon's mount loves heavy turf, with a record of 112, the second recorded behind smart performer, Harry Topper. That was a sound effort and, if he can keep a prominent position in the early go, Hawkes Point has a squeak at 12/1.
Mountainous is a consistent plodder for Richard Lee, winner of the Welsh National two years ago with Le Beau Bai. Lee also saddled the same horse to be third in 2009, and 50/1 shot, Incentivise, to finished sixth last year. The horse loves the mud, and is well weighted to persist when others have hit their limits. He's yet to be out of the first four over fences, and I'm hopeful that run will continue here. This 16/1 shot (18/1 four places) looks like the best each way value in the race to my eye.
That leaves Ace High from the short list. Although he does stay this sort of trip in deep ground, the balance of his form has been at a lower level and, while connections (David Pipe trains) are respected, he's not obviously well handicapped against some of these.
2013 Welsh Grand National Tips
As you'll have gathered from the above, I think the market has this pretty close to spot on. The value is probably in playing a couple each way, and bookmakers have been generous enough to offer five places in the main for win and place punters.
For me, the most likely winners are Highland Lodge and Well Refreshed. Highland Lodge is priced at 9/1 with four-place bookies, and 8/1 with five-place bookies. I'd be tempted to back that one with the four-place bookies, as I think he has more chance of winning than finishing fifth (famous last words?). Well Refreshed is 8/1 with Paddy, five places, and that's fair enough. You can get half a point bigger with BetVictor, four places only.
The more I look at Mountainous, the more I think he should get involved in the finish. He might just not have the (relative) toe to win - then again, he might - but at 16/1 five places, best odds guaranteed, with bet365 - he looks a pretty solid each way bet.
Likeliest Welsh Grand National winner: Highland Lodge / Well Refreshed
Best each way tip in Welsh National: Mountainous