Cogry Can Handle Welsh National Slog

Only the brave need apply for Saturday’s Welsh Grand National at Chepstow (1.45pm), set to take place on bottomless ground and ideal for those equipped with an abundance of stamina.

Upswing Won’t Mind A Test
One such runner who shapes as though this sort of test might suit is Jonjo O’Neill’s 7yo Upswing (7/1), who stayed on into second at Cheltenham last time (3m3f, good to soft). That effort was a good prep for this, and the fact Upswing has won on heavy ground is a bonus.

Another National For Twiston-Davies?
Just over 1l behind Upswing at Cheltenham was Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 6yo Cogry (7/1), who also made some good late progress to finish with a flourish. Punters can also take heart that Cogry will relish the conditions, having won on this card over a year ago when landing a 2m7f handicap on heavy ground.

Twiston-Davies also has the 8yo Tour Des Champs (12/1), pulled up in this race 12 months ago.

But he was back to form when landing a decent handicap here five weeks ago (3m, heavy). He has a 4lb penalty for that, which gets him into the handicap off a nice low weight.

The fact Tour Des Champs made the top four last time has also proven a handy pointer for this race.

Welsh Grand National Trends
Of the last 10 winners…

10 returned 20/1 or shorter
10 were 6-8yo’s
10 ran during the last 21-60 days
10 were non-favourites
9 made the top four last time
7 had a maximum of five handicap chase runs
6 arrived via Cheltenham or Chepstow

Mountainous Back For More
So often a track for specialists, Chepstow’s undulating course takes some knowing, which will suit the 2013 Welsh National winner Mountainous (8/1). This 10yo scraped home by a head two years ago, before being pulled up 12 months ago when out of form. However, he has another crack on Saturday from a 5lb lower mark than when triumphant, and showed encouraging signs this season.

Emperor To Rule Again?
Also in good heart is last year’s Welsh National winner Emperor’s Choice (10/1), who returns from a 10lb higher mark. Not seen since winning here in the mud 12 months ago, Venetia Williams’ 8yo picked up from where he left off in winning a decent handicap at Haydock 49 days ago, teeing-him up nicely for Saturday’s defence of the race.

Shotgun Paddy (10/1) also has winning form around here, and warmed up for this by finishing over 2l behind Upswing at Cheltenham two months ago.

Winner of the 2014 Classic Chase at Warwick (3m5f soft), he was pulled up in this race 12 months ago when out of form, but heads into this renewal in better form.

A mention also goes to 16/1 shot Bob Ford, who seems to have two ways of running – either winning or being pulled up. He was a winner in Wales last time and rates each-way material if in the mood.

Recommended Bets
The ability to act on very soft ground will prove key, which brings Cogry into the equation. A dual winner on heavy ground and a winner at Chepstow, he caught the eye when fourth at Cheltenham last time, and can go closer on Saturday.

*Prices correct at time of publication.