Welsh Grand National 2021 Tips: Ramses to be Rampant

It looks like a brilliant renewal of the Welsh National.
It looks like a brilliant renewal of the Welsh National.

After the excitement of the jam packed Boxing Day racing, we return on the 27th with the Welsh National, and Joe Tuffin has given his thoughts on the race… 

The Festive period really is something to behold in the racing world, with high quality, highly competitive action taking place up and down the country. The Welsh National is always one of these highlights and the 2021 renewal is shaping up like a Christmas cracker with 20 brilliant horses heading to Chepstow for the staying showpiece.

A number sorted racecard would see a familiar name sit atop as number one, with the hugely followed and hugely loved Native River returning to handicap company for the first time since winning this race way back in 2016. A fresh faced six-year-old back then who had the staying chase division at his hoofs, the Colin Tizzard superstar has had quite the career in open company landing some huge prizes - most notably the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2018. As much as I’d love Native River to win this race, and I honestly wouldn’t begrudge all my Festive bets losing for this to happen, It doesn’t look like the likely outcome with the 11-going-on-12 year old lumbered with the top weight of 11st 12lb in what looks an acid test return to handicapping. He’s at that funny stage of his career where he’s too classy to realistically be knocking around handicaps, but with age taking away some of his pace is also no longer up for the big open Grade 1 races. Being the quality animal he is, he’s really going to struggle in handicaps as he’s rated some 10lb higher than the field and will almost always be top weight, so as much as he’ll carry my sentimental £5 e/w, he’s probably worth swerving for win purposes.

Only three horses have ever won multiple Welsh National’s but there are a four that are in with a chance of doubling up at Chepstow on the 27th, with the aforementioned Native River and the last three winners Elegant Escape (2018), Potters Corner (2019) and Secret Reprieve (2020) all lining up to create an almost race of champions in the 2021 renewal. 

The former mentioned, much like Native River, stepped up into open company after his 2018 success but, unlike Native River, did so to limited levels of success and has found himself back in handicaps of late, though did run in the 2020 Gold Cup. The guilty party in what is possibly the weirdest entry of all time, Elegant Escape returned after 631 days off the course to contest a 2m handicap hurdle earlier this month - which is a lot like Mo Farah running in the 100m to get him race fit. He, obviously, didn’t succeed there but it was a nice pipe opener for him and should put him good for this race, though good efforts in open company - such as two seconds in the Cotswold and Charlie Hall Chase respectively - see him right at the top of the weights below only Native River, and this has probably caught up with him in recent runs. He has strong claims sure, but if you disregard his last two runs which both didn’t suit - the 2m hurdle race and the Gold Cup - this is the first time since February 2020 he’s been in a big staying handicap chase and it would be mighty impressive for him to return to this stage with a win. An admirable performer who should be in the frame, but maybe not the winner.

Potters Corner looks heavily up against it in his bid to be a two-time Welsh National winner, with the 11-year-old failing to really kick on from his 2019 success. His forte looks to be more in cross-country races these days, with his form over those fences reading 362, compared to 7PP7P away from them, and he probably did himself no favours for this event when only narrowly missing out on victory in the December cross country race at Cheltenham - which saw him go back up 5lb back to 140. I expect that to peg him back here, and see him pulling up, dropping 3lb and then heading to the cross country at the Festival where he’ll probably run a strong race to his credit. Best to stay away here though.

One that certainly doesn’t look up against it according to the bookmakers is last year’s victor Secret Reprieve - the 9/2 favourite at the current time of writing. Not seen since that success in early January where he was a featherweight 10st 1lb, Evan Williams’ star only has to deal with a 6lb rise and when you consider he is clearly a very good horse, and his saddle was slipping when successful last year, this doesn’t look like the trickiest challenge to overcome. The only thing to worry about is race fitness, and that is quite the worry for me. There’s obviously no chance he’d be here, never mind the clear favourite, if connections didn’t have him in tip top condition, but to go straight back into a gruelling stamina sapping test like this after nearly 365 days off the course is a big ask to say the least, and I’m not sure I’d want to back a horse at that price with that sized question mark lingering over him.

There’s two other runners currently in the single-figure odds category at the time of writing, with both The Big Dog and Highland Hunter both knocking about the 7/1 - 8/1 range. The former mentioned, who if anything has the best name in the field, is coming over from Ireland where he boasts quite a taking record in big staying handicap chases. With form of 3U3313 over fences, the win notably coming in the Punchestown National trial, you certainly know what you’re going to get from him and that’s consistency. Rated 147, he’ll relish the test this race has to offer but while consistent, hasn’t yet shown enough class for me to think he’s worth a bet at 7/1, especially with some more proven animals in the field at double the price. Highland Hunter is the main challenger for the Paul Nicholls yard, with their other runner Truckers Lodge propping up the market as an unfancied 40/1 chance, but Highland HUnter certainly isn’t short of claims. Another consistent sort, he recorded his first ‘big’ win last time out in the London National, when beating Deise Aba, who he opposes again, on the nod. Although it was an impressive win - the pair seven-lengths clear of the rest - this represents a sharp rise in grade and he’s hardly snuck in at the weights, rated 149 and carrying 10st 9lb. You’d probably rather side with Deise Aba, who was ignored by the handicapper for the defeat and hasn’t been moved a pound, so is probably on better terms here and is double the price.

The main fancy though will be seasoned campaigner Ramses De Teillee, a constant in these staying chases who is probably just falling back into his window of success. Second here behind Elegant Escape in 2018, he’s always seemed to struggle when going above OR 150 where his form reads 7049, though, this season aside, is 5122P134 when below it. Off 146 now, he’s certainly got to peek interest at 20/1, given he’s only 2lb higher than for that 2018 second, and evidently loves the course with form of 211120 on the Welsh track. He was disappointing in last year’s renewal, finishing a well beaten 12th, but is 7lb lower than for that effort here, and the only true negative I can see is his current season form where he should realistically have won one given the weakness of the events. If he can put those runs behind him, he looks an excellent bet to at least hit the frame in a race he is certainly no stranger to.

Welsh Grand National
 Ramses De Teillee silk

Ramses De Teillee

Welsh Grand National Odds
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