The Welsh National often provides a sound guide to this weekend’s Grand National Trial at Haydock (2.55pm, Saturday).
Indeed, this year’s renewal of the latter features the second, fourth and fifth from the Welsh National, plus a trio of also-rans, so the form of the Chepstow marathon may once again hold the key.
Benvolio (5/1) heads the weights and the betting after rallying gamely to be beaten just a short head by Emperor’s Choice in the Welsh National at Chepstow seven weeks ago. He has been raised 6lb for that performance, but it was his first attempt beyond 3m1½f and he remains unexposed at marathon distances. However, he’s 8lb worse off for 8½ lengths with Monbeg Dude, so he may struggle to confirm the form.
Monbeg Dude (13/2) finished a remote third in this race, off a 6lb lower mark, in 2013. His recent form – fourth in the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Welsh National – suggests that he is far from impossibly handicapped. In fact, earlier this week trainer Michael Scudamore (pictured) said, “For the mark he is off he does seem to be better than he has ever been.” He added, “If the forecast rain arrives on Friday he would go there with a good shout.” The going at Haydock is already soft so, with showers forecast to give way to more persistent rain, underfoot conditions should suit perfectly.
Samstown (8/1) beat Benbens (8/1) by half a length in the Peter Marsh Chase over 3m1f on this course four weeks ago, but reopposes on 4lb worse terms and may struggle to confirm the form over an extra half a mile. That said, Benbens has never won beyond 3m1½f and weakened in the closing stages of the Welsh National, finishing fifth, beaten 23 lengths. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge has work to do to beat Monbeg Dude or Benvolio at today’s weights and, frankly, neither he nor Samstown make any great appeal for win purposes.
David Pipe’s Broadway Buffalo (8/1) has not run since Boxing Day, loves the mud and is less exposed than many of his rivals. As the baby of the race at seven-years-old, he could be one of the few improvers in this field.
Rigadin De Beauchene (10/1) won this race last year, off a 7lb lower mark, after finishing second to Well Refreshed in 2013. Trainer Venetia Williams’ 10-year-old is clearly a force to be reckoned with over marathon distances when the mud is flying, when in the mood. The fact that he has been pulled up on five of his last seven starts, including the last three, makes him a dodgy betting proposition.
Trustan Times’ (12/1) brief chasing career has been blighted by jumping errors but, if the Heron Island gelding was finally to get his act together over the larger obstacles, he would start to look reasonably handicapped. His third, beaten just 1¾ lengths, in the Scottish Grand National, over 4m at Ayr last April was an excellent effort from 6lb out of the handicap and a repeat performance could see him surprise some better-fancied rivals.
- It is conceivable that this year’s Grand National Trial could produce a bona fide contender for the Grand National proper. Our betting tips advice is to back Monbeg Dude each-way at a current best price of 13/2 with Paddy Power. Michael Scudamore’s 10-year-old can take this en route to another tilt at the big one at Aintree in April.