This will be a proper test for some inexperienced horses and Champagne Rhythm’s previous course form at Chepstow should stand him in extremely good stead. Pozo Emery was a beaten favourite on debut but is bred to relish this stiffer test and softer ground, and he can give the Evan Williams trained horse most to do.
Selection: Champagne Rhythm
This is a fascinating contest with Aso the class act, looking to repeat his win in 2016, having run 4th in the King George VI chase twelve months ago. His 11st 12lb will be tough to carry to victory on heavy going and it may pay to take a chance with last year’s winner, and twelve year old, Tiquer trained by shrewd handler Alan Jones. He’s only 5lbs higher than last year and carrying just 10 stone is such an asset on this ground at Chepstow.
This is a cracking renewal of a race that has produced some top class winners, including Bristol De Mai, Defi Du Seuil and last year’s winner Allmankind. Houx Gris is making his debut for Paul Nicholls having been a 200,000 euro purchase from France and is likely to start favourite, but Elham Valley looked tough as nails when winning at Sandown and is taken to win this for Fergal O’Brien.
Selection: Elham Valley
Evan Williams and Adam Wedge were in Grade One winning form yesterday at Kempton, and there’s good reason to believe Clyne can run back to his best and win this for the same combination. He was second twelve months ago carrying 4lbs more and looked like his old self at Haydock last time out finishing second at Haydock. This race has been kept in Wales for six of the last ten renewals, and I think it will be again.
Secret Reprieve has a great profile for the race, having won the Welsh National trial last time out, is carrying 8lbs less than his official mark, and will be getting weight from almost every rival on heavy ground. But he’s a very short price as a result and there are a host of seriously tough staying chasers in this field that are more than capable of running big races. Yala Enki, Truckers Lodge and Ramses De Teillee all love Chepstow and will relish the conditions. However Lord Du Mesnil may be the one to stop the favourite having run second in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, and run over inadequate trips on his two starts this term.
Selection: Lord Du Mesnil
Gowel Road gave odds-on favourite Bear Ghylls plenty to think about on his racecourse debut and he will be very hard to beat here. Coastal Drift remains a horse with plenty of potential and could run well at a big price.
Selection: Gowel Road
Eva’s Oskar won the staying handicap hurdle on this card twelve months ago and can build on his debut 4th over fences by winning this. Supreme Escape relished the conditions last time out and can give the selection most to do.
Selection: Eva’s Oskar