Welsh Grand National 2010 Trends

The Coral Welsh Grand National, normally run the day after Boxing Day, has been re-scheduled and is due to take place this Saturday, 8th January.

Dream Alliance ready for a repeat bid in the Welsh Grand National

Dream Alliance ready for a repeat bid in the Welsh Grand National

Run over the marathon distance of three miles, five-and-a-half furlongs, it is unsurprisingly a true test of stamina, and the trends are very strong.

Looking at the last ten renewals, from 2009 back to 2000, we’re able to draw a quite compelling profile of the optimal Welsh Grand National winner, as follows:

Age: all of the last ten winners of the Welsh National were 6, 7, 8 or 9 years old. Now here’s an interesting point. All racehorses in the northern hemisphere have their birthday on the first of January. This means that horses who would have raced on 27th December as a nine year old, now race twelve days later as a ten year old. On that basis, I’m going to look only at 7-10 year old horses specifically for this year.

Odds: All ten Welsh Grand National winners were 20/1 or less, and 8 of the ten were 14/1 or shorter, so it’s unlikely we’ll get a huge surprise here.

Weight: Although one horse lugged 11-03, and another just 10-00, the other eight Welsh Grand National winners all carried between 10-04 and 11-00.

Wins: All of the past ten winners of the Welsh Grand National had previously scored between one and five times, with eight of them having enjoyed between two and four victories. This may be material from a handicapping perspective, as less wins equals less weight.

Falls: As you’d expect in a race with 22 fences, fluent jumpers do not win the Welsh National. In fact, excluding Bindaree – who had previously won the Aintree Grand National, and also fallen five times in his chasing career – eight of the other nine winners in the last decade had either no falls or a solitary tumble or unseated rider.

Official Rating: Pretty much all Nationals are won by a horse with a touch of class, as the Welsh Grand National is no exception. We measure class in terms of races run in, weight carried and official rating. Here, eight of the last ten winners were in the rating bracket 131 to 147. All ten were between 125 and 152.

Highest Class Win: Nine out of the last ten Welsh Grand National winners had won or placed in a Graded race.

Topspeed: The Racing Post speed ratings imply that a figure of at least 122 is required to win the Welsh National, as nine of the last ten winners had already recorded such a number.

Longest Distance Win: Again, the Welsh Grand National is a loooong race. Consequently, it is no surprise that proven stamina is required. All of the last ten winners had previously won a chase race over three miles or further.

Last Time Out: The strong Welsh National trends regarding previous winners’ last run prior to winning here.
1. All ten finished in the first four last time out.
2. 9 out of 10 raced over three miles or more (the other raced over 2m5f)
3. 9 out of 10 raced on a galloping track, similar to the one they’d face when winning next time in the Welsh Grand National


So, as you can see, there are some compelling patterns to whittle down the field. Let’s start with the age stat, and remove any horse aged six or younger, or eleven or older. That takes out eight of the 32 entries, though nothing too high up the bookies’ lists.

Next, we’ll remove any horse that failed to finish in the first four last time. Here, we wave ‘hwyl’ (Welsh for goodbye) to favourite, Synchronised, and last year’s winner, Dream Alliance, amongst a dozen failures on this stat.

We’re now left with just twelve entries already.

Let’s consider class now, and by doing so remove any horse that is due to carry less than ten stone four pounds, or more than eleven stone three. Four lightly weighted contenders drift away as probably not being good enough to win here.

Our remaining octet is as follows: Summery Justice, Watamu Bay, Becauseicouldntsee,  Dance Island, Exmoor Ranger, Hills Of Aran, Bluesea Cracker and Maktu.

Former Irish Grand National winner, Bluesea Cracker, is apparently lame and therefore a non-runner, which leaves us with seven contenders.

Of the seven, I’m looking for a horse with between two and four chase victories, and one or less falls, to their names.

Exmoor Ranger has fallen twice in his twelve chase starts, and is a tad shy of the Graded placed form we’re looking for as well, so is scrubbed.

The pair of thrice-chased runners, Watamu Bay and Summery Justice, as well as four-times chased Dance Island, present a conundrum. Both Miko de Beauchene and Halcon Genelardais won the Welsh Grand National on their fifth chase start, but no horse has done so with less fencing experience.

Although it’s precarious – especially as they’re two of the top five in the betting – I’m going to reluctantly scratch Watamu and Summery. In point of fact, they’d both need to improve markedly on what they’ve shown so far. Of course, the counter-argument is that they’re entirely capable of so doing!

Dance Island looks good for Welsh Grand National glory

Dance Island looks good for Welsh Grand National glory

Dance Island has just the one win from four starts, but… he was also second in a Grade 1 chase last season, and comes here off a good second in a Haydock (galloping track) Class 2 chase over three miles. He ticks all boxes.

Becauseicouldntsee is exceptionally tough and consistent, but this will surely come too soon after his second to Majestic Concorde over three heavy Leopardstown miles in the Paddy Power Chase. He’s respected but overlooked on that basis.

Hills Of Aran has two wins and no falls from his six chase starts. He’s a classy sort on his day but he must have fast ground. Quite simply, he ain’t gonna get it. Excluded.

Maktu has been out of the frame just once in his eight chase starts, and can boast two three mile victories (one of them here at Chepstow) in that number. The ground is fine for him, he is in the right weight, experience, and odds brackets, is trained by Pat Murphy (responsible for 2001 winner Supreme Glory), and looks spot on for this.

But… he might be a touch shy on class, having never contested anything stronger than a Class 3 (albeit that he won it by 20 lengths on heavy ground at Haydock – excellent form in the context of these race conditions).

So, my selection is… DANCE ISLAND

Next best is… MAKTU

The best of luck with your Welsh Grand National wagers.

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