STAR PREVIEW Sat: Welsh National

Racing from Chepstow (Featuring Coral Welsh Grand National and Finale Hurdle) and Kempton (Featuring Lanzarote Hurdle, Reelkeel Hurdle and Silviniaco Conti Chase)
Live on ITV4 HD & ITV Hub from 1.00pm & Racing TV from 11.45am

The first week of 2021 has been a grim one for many but racing fans get some respite with a cracking Saturday of action including three great meetings, with two taking our attention in the shape of Chepstow and Kempton. We start at Chepstow, where the rescheduled Welsh Grand National (3.10) takes place after being rescheduled with all the main players back here.

The last time Lord Du Mesnil was faced with an extreme test of stamina, he was a fine second in the 3m6f National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, finishing a season which had seen him romp home in the Tommy Whittle and Last Flight handicap chases at Haydocok on heavy ground before finishing a close second in the Grand National trial, when Yala Enki, The Two Amigos and Vintage Clouds were all well beaten.

His two runs this season can be forgotten, as 2m6f at Kelso over hurdles was just a warm up, and he appeared to be running over an inadequate trip in the Grand Sefton, when he may not have loved the fences in any case. This is far more his bag today and at his best, he’s surely got a better than 14/1 shot here.

Favourite secret Reprieve is a really promising young chaser who is tremendously handicapped, but 3m6f here (with an extra half furlong) is going to be a very different situation from the trial which he dominated here and coming from behind has also been a very hard task in this race. In any case, 100/30 is a price which makes no appeal in a Welsh National.

The Welsh National is indeed such a unique test that those who’ve been there and three of the past ten winners had been placed in this race beforehand. Yala Enki and Truckers Lodge have done Paul Nicholls proud and should take some passing, but Truckers Lodge is 14lbs higher following his Midlands National win and Yala Enki is 4lbs higher and off top weight here too.

That could let in Prime Venture, who was fourth last year and is now only 4lbs higher after a wide margin win in a soft novices’ handicap chase at Sedgefield last time out. That could be a boost to his confidence after things went off the rails following his fine effort in last year’s renewal and it would be no surprise if he was on the premises again.

We go from the staying chasers to the juvenile hurdlers as Nassalam heads the betting for an intriguing renewal of the Finale Juvenile Hurdle (1.25) where Gary Moore’s charge faces what should be his first serious test against Cheltenham winner Adagio, Sandown winner Elham Valley and Paul Nicholls debutant Houx Gris. We should learn a good bit from that but it looks a race to enjoy.

The Lanzarote Hurdle (3.30) is a ferociously contested contest with a whole host of decent chances. The market has come for One True King and Glynn, who are amongst a number of horses with attractive profiles, but a chance is taken on a ten-year-old whose dropping mark could leave him well in. Mount Mews’s best days appear to be behind him (his last win was three years ago) but his two efforts this season have been more than fair, first when finishing second to an in form rival who’d have the benefit of a run on heavy ground and next when just not quite seeing out 3 miles at Carlisle. A drop back in trip to this flatter track should help matters and the handicapper’s not put him up for either effort, leaving him on a mark 14lbs lower than his peak effort (when second in an Aintree Grade 1). A strong pace looks guaranteed here and that could suit him more than most here, and if he retains more of his ability than 131 suggests, he could be a live outsider.

The Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Handicap Chase (1.45) is another really good contest where Two For Gold is given a chance to atone for a rare off day in the Ladbrokes Trophy. He’d previously been a most progressive horse over staying trips, taking a Grade 2 novice chase last season before running into a red hot horse in the shape of Copperhead at Ascot, and on his return he’d run well considering the inadequate trip at Wetherby.

McFabulous’s effort in the Long Distance Hurdle was really impressive and it’s understandable that he’s a short price in the rearranged Reelkeel, but one wonders how he’ll cope with soft ground here and Younevercall is an interesting contender against him. Kim Baliley appears to have brought him back to his very best after a long time off the track based on his fourth in the Long Walk Hurdle and whilst sticky ground won’t suit the favourite, it should be fine for him based on his Ascot effort. He gets 3lbs from McFabulous, 4lbs from Thomas Darby and 6lbs from Summerville Boy which makes him look very well treated at the weights and he can give the favourite a serious test if standing up to three runs in quick succession – hopefully the delay to this race enhances his chances.

The Silvinaco Conti Chase looks another cracker where Imperial Aura faces an interesting test after his wide margin win in the Amlin Chase. Master Tommytucker will be hard to beat getting 6lbs if he puts in a clear round whilst a return to form for Riders Onthe Storm will play a big part if he’s back to his best form. Clondaw Castle is joint bottom rated but was third in the Peterborough Chase to underline the strength of the contest.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Two For Gold 1 pt win in 1.45 Kempton at 3/1 with
BACK Younevercall 1 pt win in 2.20 Kempton at 4/1 with
BACK Lord Du Mesnil 1 pt win in 3.10 Chepstow at 14/1 with
BACK Prime Venture 1 pt win in 3.10 Chepstow at 10/1 with
BACK Mount Mews 1 pt win in 3.30 Kempton at 22/1 with

PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 89.14 points
(Excluding Cheltenham 2021 antepost, Premier League 2020/21 Ante Post, Champions League Ante-post, 2021 Grand National recommended bets 14 Nov 2020 & 6 Dec 2020, Cheltenham Festival ante-post bets recommended 26 Dec and 2 Jan, FA Cup antepost recommended 8 Jan)