Friday Preview – Escape Can Do Welsh National Double

Elegant Escape (Nearside)
Elegant Escape (Nearside)

There is a real bumper day of action to enjoy on the 27th with the ITV racing team bringing us no fewer than eight races with the likes of the Welsh National and the Desert Orchid Chase taking centre stage.

Chepstow

Smart Money Handicap Chase

Eceparti is the hot favourite to win this handicap having won al three chase starts to date including in his native France. He has a lovely racing weight and it’s hard to look past him.

I have always liked Springtown Lake but he has been disappointing of late and hasn’t won in over a year. There was little to take from his two runs this season put they ere in better quality races so he might show more now off a reduced mark.

The other of note is Whatswrongwithyou who’s ran in some hot races in his day but could be in better form

Selection: Eceparti

Finale Juvenile Hurdle

Allmankind heads the market for this Grade 1 contest following two victories of hurdles thus far including in the Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham. He looks like one of this season’s leading juveniles and could be tough to beat.

Cerberus

J P McManus has recently added Cerberus to his strong team of horses after the Joseph O’Brien trained gelding won a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse in good style. I think he’s a nice horse with plenty of pace but he’s by now way unbeatable.

One of the least exposed runners in the field is the Jedd O’Keefe trained Tarvus who chinned Navajo Pass late on hurdling debut at Newcastle with the runnner-up boosting the from last week. I know that Donald McCain holds his charge in high regard which brings Tarvus very much into the reckoning.

Selection: Tarvus

Smart Money Handicap Hurdle

Acey Milan showed his class by finishing fourth in the Champion Bumper in Cheltenham two seasons ago. He has started to progress nicely in recent times and finished runner-up in a Grade 3 Stayers’ event in November and is the one to beat.

The Evan Williams trained Clyne ran in a Grade 1 three starts back buts hasn’t quite shown that form in two runs this season and needs to show more.

Ask Dillon was another winner for the red-hot Fergal O’Brien team at Exter and off the same mark he has to be of interest here.

Selection: Tedham

Welsh Grand National
The winner Elegant Escape (Tom O’Brien,left) makes a mistake at the last fence but beats Thomas Patrick (Richard Johnson) in the 3m Intermediate Chase Sandown 11.11.18 Pic: Edward Whitaker

Colin Tizzard has won two of the last three runnings of this staying handicap chase and his main hope this year would appear to be Elegant Escape who bids for back to back victories in the race. He proved his well-being with a gallant third in the Ladbrokes Trophy last month but is fourteen pounds higher than last year which may prove too much of this marathon trip.

Truckers Lodge looks like the type that has been laid out for this race. He’s only won one of his chase starts but that did come at Chepstow and he seems to stay well. A mark of 139 seems very fair and if he can cope with the big field he’d have a live chance.

Pobbles Bay won a novice chase on this card back in 2016 and finished seventh in his race back in 2018 off four-pounds higher. Evan Williams has minded his mark by running over hurdles on both starts this season and he’s a player.

Another Evan Williams runner with a big chance is Prime Venture who was fourth in the Midlands National last season and ran well behind Truckers Lodge on seasonal debut at Chepstow in October. He’s yet to win over fences which is slightly concerning but he could sneak a place.

Selection: Truckers Lodge

Kempton

Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase

The ex-French trained Fanion D’Estruval had shown a good level of form in his native country and made a winning debut for current connections at Newbury last month. He has a bit of find off his current mar but looks unexposed.

Grand Sancy has yet to win in the current campaign but has shown a high level of form pushing Fusil Raffles all the way in the Elite Hurdle and then finished third in a Grade 1 on chasing debut, which gives him leading claims here.

Al Dancer was a disappointing favourite in the Supreme last season but showed a return to form when second in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham in November. He’s obviously got lots of ability and must be considered.

Selection: Grand Sancy

Mares’ Handicap Hurdle

Top-weight Culture De Sivola took this contest twelve months ago when beating Molly Childers in fine fashion. Nick Williams mare hasn’t won since but is only five pounds higher than last year and hinted at a return to form when runner-up in a Listed contest last time out.

Culture De Sivola (No.3)

The Fergal O’Brien team has been firing in the winners all season and run the ultra-consistent Oscar Rose. She won on seasonal debut at Southwell and followed up with another good run but you’d like to think there are more progressive types in the field.

Danse Idol was disappointing on seasonal debt at Wincanton but historically tends to improve for her first run and a much better effort can be expected.

Selection: Culture De Sivola

Desert Orchid Chase

Last year’s winner Altior is a major absentee for the final field, which leaves Sceau Royal who finished in behind Altior three times last season and ran poorly on seasonal debut at Sandown as the leading contender. There is nothing else of his class in the field and will be tough to beat.

Capeland got compensation at Ascot having been unfairly disqualified previously. He was found wanting in graded company last season but looks like an improved sort this season and should go well.

It’s worth noting that Willie sends over last season’s Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres who’s been well beaten on both starts this season but Willie wouldn’t be sending him over if he wasn’t happy with his work.

Selection: Sceau Royal

Where The Nation Plays Handicap Chase

Belami Des Pictons has seen very little of the track in recent times but proved that he retained plenty of ability when finishing fourth in the Bet Victor on seasonal debut. He somehow got dropped a pound for that run and if showing no ill-effects for that run he will go close.

Just A Sting put in a near career-best to finish in behind Give Me A Copper in the Silver Trophy when last seen and runs off the same mark here. He might prefer the ground slightly better but has a live chance nonetheless.

Selection: Belami Des Pictons

Friday Preview – Escape Can Do Welsh National Double
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