|Wednesday 3rd December 2014|
Welsh National to provide Aintree pointers
Emma Lavelle’s Shotgun Paddy might have been beaten 59 lengths into fifth of the sixth runners behind Medinas in the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle on Hennessy Gold Cup day at Newbury, but he still showed enough to satisfy punters that he could be the right one to be on for the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow on December 27.
Although the gelded son of Brian Boru is only a seven-year-old he has always been considered a thorough stayer, and the Lavelle team have certainly not ruled out the possibility of moving on from Chepstow to Aintree in the spring for the £1 million Crabbie’s Grand National should their charge put up a good performance in the Christmas marathon contest. Amongst current Grand National tips and odds sites, Shotgun Paddy is currently offered at around 40/1.
King’s charge will certainly improve for the run and there should be little between him and Shotgun Paddy in what could be a fascinating rematch if they both make it to the starting line up at Chepstow. On a point of handicapping Midnight Prayer appears to be well in with Shotgun Paddy, having beaten him by a neck at Cheltenham off level weights and now, surprisingly, set to receive 8lbs, making him a potentially attractive betting proposition.
Midnight Prayer, generally a 12/1 shot for the Welsh National, has not been spoken of as yet by Alan King as a potential runner at Aintree, but, as with Shotgun Paddy, a good run at the South Wales track could well persuade connections to let him take his chance in “the world’s greatest steeplechase”.
Monbeg Dude, the 2012 winner of the Coral Welsh National, advertised his chances of a repeat success when running a blinder to finish fourth in the Hennessy Gold Cup and is now a 12/1 shot to win the big race again (although 14/1 is still available in a few places). Already proven at Aintree having run a rock solid race to finish seventh behind Pineau de Re in the Crabbie’s Grand National last April, it seems almost a given that he will be campaigned with that race in mid again.
Should the ground come up as soft as usual at Chepstow though, the Michael Scudamore-trained out-and-out stayer would be a serious threat to both Shotgun Paddy and Midnight Prayer, having already ‘been there’ and ‘done that’ in the recent past. He is generally offered at 33/1 for the Crabbie’s Grand National, a race that could possibly be within his compass as he gets older and now appears able to also operate effectively on decent ground, as he did last year at Cheltenham’s December fixture when landing the Grade 3 Majordomo Hospitality Handicap Chase.
If Houblon des Obeaux, a tremendous runner-up in the Hennessy Gold Cup, gets the green light to head to Chepstow he could easily be the one they all have to beat. As he matures Venetia Williams’ thorough stayer is getting better and better, and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that he might even go to Cheltenham with a chance in the Gold Cup in March if he continues on an upward path.
Cut from 33/1 to 16/1 for the Chepstow late-December feature, the gelded son of Panoramic goes well in soft ground, but Merry King, third in the Hennessy and fourth in last year’s Scottish National, would probably appreciate better ground, so his 12/1 odds look far from generous unless the ground dries out more than anticipated.
Another Hennessy runner, Unioniste (Paul Nicholls) is a 20/1 shot for the Welsh National and was doing his best work at the finish at Newbury in finishing sixth to suggest the greater stamina test might well suit. He is another to consider in what promises to be a great race and a significant pointer towards Aintree more than three months later.