TEMPLEGATE has run the rule over the Welsh Grand National – and picked out who he thinks will win.
Here, our man runs through EVERY horse in the race one by one and delivers his verdict at the bottom.
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NATIVE RIVER 3
RIVER deep. 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner who stays well and still has class although he was poor at Aintree last time. He’d love lots of rain but he’s giving loads of weight away and a place would be a good effort.
ELEGANT ESCAPE 4
ESCAPE to victory. Sixth in this two years ago from a higher mark and hasn’t run much since. Came back from nearly two months off over hurdles and has been laid out for this. Likes it here and has stamina so will run well.
KIMBERLITE CANDY 2
HARD Candy. Real stayer who has been second in the Becher Chase twice over the National fences so is a good jumper. Was poor in this year’s renewal though after a long break and has something to prove now. Rain would be a bonus.
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TRUCKERS LODGE 3
LODGE a bid. Was second in 2019 and won the Midlands National last year so staying is his game. Came back from a break to finish fifth in the trial here earlier this month and will be much fitter for it. Goes on any ground and right in the hunt.
MIGHTY THUNDER 3
HIGH and Mighty. Scottish National winner who was a cracking second in the Midlands version so staying is his game. Came back with a solid run at Wetherby last time and this longer trip is more suitable. Loves any ground and will be bang there again.
HIGHLAND HUNTER 4
HUNT a win. Battled well to win the London National at Sandown earlier this month in a slog. Can’t go far enough and soft ground will help draw out his stamina. Should run another big race under a 4lb penalty.
THE BIG DOG 4
DOG days. Well-backed and has been laid out for this with a prep run over hurdles. Won a big staying chase at Punchestown in February in the mud and will have no problem staying. Up weights but unexposed in marathons.
RAMSES DE TEILLEE 3
RAM raid. Second back in 2018 but beaten 55 lengths last year from a 7lb higher mark. Showed some promise at Haydock last time when fourth and has no issue staying, especially on soft. Getting on but has a place shout.
MAC TOTTIE 2
NOT Tott. Won the Grand Sefton over the National fences but fell when fancied for the Becher there last time. Shapes like a stayer and on a fair weight but must bounce back from that Aintree tumble.
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ACH attack. Finished well when sixth in the Midlands National and good effort in the Becher last time when rusty. Looks on a winnable mark and Venetia Williams is having a good season. Chance if the ground eases.
SECRET REPRIEVE 4
TOP Secret. Hasn’t run since winning this last season in good style. Has a cracking weight and we know trip and track are ideal. It’s decades since a horse won this after such a long break but he ticks all the boxes if fit enough.
SLIPPED Disc. Sixth in the Ultima at the Festival but has been below par since with a poor effort in the Irish National and a modest sixth at Navan on comeback. Best form has come over shorter.
DEISE ABA 4
ABA in tune. Chinned on the line by Highland Hunter in the London National last time after a good comeback over hurdles. Losing a shoe didn’t help and he’s got winning form here, which can’t hurt. One of many each-way chances.
HOLD THAT TAUGHT 3
HOLD on. Improving stayer who had plenty in hand when winning at Carlisle last time. Best has come on soft ground and he has a lot more to offer. He’s out of the weights today but has been well backed for in-form Venetia Williams.
COLORADO DOC 1
DOC leave. Fair second in the trial for this earlier in December after a decent effort at Newbury. Didn’t stay the last time he tried a marathon like this, which is a worry.
WILL has a way. Big career-best when winning the trial for this race here earlier this month when jumping really well. Went from the front and hammered his rivals so the longer trip isn’t an issue and he’s a leading contender.
EVA’S OSKAR 2
NOT for Eva. Solid form in small fields around three miles including when second at Cheltenham last time. Shapes like a real stayer but is up the weights so needs a fair bit of improvement.
CAPTAIN DRAKE 1
CAP doesn’t fit. Was fourth in this last year but hasn’t fired since including when well beaten at Haydock last time. Trip and track suit so should do better but playing for a place at very best.
HILL SIXTEEN 3
HILL on high. Beaten on the nod in the Becher Chase over the National fences at Aintree when he loved the testing ground. Stays well and has improved since joining the canny Sandy Thomson.
POTTERS CORNER 3
COR blimey. Last win was this race in 2019 and ran his best race since when beaten in a photo over the Cheltenham cross-country course earlier this month. Every chance of hitting the frame.
HIGHLAND HUNTER can scale the Coral Welsh National heights (2.50 Chepstow, nap).
Paul Nicholls’ stayer has a bright future in marathons as he showed with a last-gasp London National win at Sandown last time. He needed every inch of the three and a half miles there so will relish this test.
Deise Aba was a nose behind despite losing a shoe and is right in the mix again at fair odds.
Secret Reprieve’s last run was when winning this 12 months ago and he's been well backed. It will be some feat for Evan Williams to get him fit enough but his form is rock-solid.
Elegant Escape has been laid out for this and has run well in the race before so has to be shortlisted.
The Big Dog has been a major gamble and canny Irish trainer Peter Fahey will have him trained to the minute. Iwilldoit looks overpriced after an easy win in the trial for this contest.
It should be a cracker with Native River and Potters Corner also in the each-way picture.
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