Racing betting preview: Portrait King can clean up in muddy Welsh Grand National

Bill Esdaile
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Chepstow Races
Emperor's Choice is aiming to land consecutive Welsh Grand Nationals (Source: Getty)

It is going to be touch and go whether Saturday's Welsh Grand National (1.45pm) card at Chepstow goes ahead.

Last month’s meeting had to be abandoned due to a waterlogged track and Mother Nature is doing her best to spoil the party again.

If it does get the green light, though, there are going to be two essential requirements: the ability to handle swamp-like conditions and endless reserves of stamina.

EMPEROR’S CHOICE bids to become the first back-to-back winner since Bonanza Boy in 1989.

Despite that, Venetia Williams’ contender is very much respected and I put him up at 12/1 with Betway before Christmas.

This kind of test is exactly what he wants, as he proved by winning at Haydock on soft ground in November.

I must admit that I am less keen on him now at 8/1 with Betway, but those of you who have already backed him certainly should not be ripping up your tickets.

My other selection for the original race was another previous winner of this, MOUNTAINOUS, who landed the prize two years ago.

Conditions are absolutely ideal for this 11-year-old and he’s now 5lb lower than when winning this race.

His two starts this season have been at Sandown where he has run respectably on both occasions, even though the ground has not been soft enough.

He is a best-price 8/1 with Betway, but the combination of his low weight, terrible ground and an extra fortnight to get over his last run surely mean he has a massive chance.

Nigel Twiston-Davies has won this race a couple of times in the past and Cogry looks to have very solid claims.

He ran a cracker on his reappearance at Cheltenham behind Sausalito Sunrise and won on his only visit to Chepstow just over a year ago.

My problem with him is purely his price as 7/1 is short enough for a horse without much experience in a brutal contest like this.

Upswing ran well in the same Cheltenham race as Cogry last time, but Jonjo O’Neill has expressed slight doubts about the ground.

Staying is the name of the game here and the one I am going to add to the portfolio is 2012 Eider Chase winner PORTRAIT KING at a massive 33/1 with Betway.

He has only won one race since then, although that does not tell the whole story.

He was running a huge race in last year’s Crabbie’s Grand National when unfortunately coming down three out.

Returning to Aintree last month, he again took well to the fences and was looking threatening when slightly unsighted and falling at the second last.

The 11-year-old is not a bad jumper by any stretch and a monster trip on heavy ground is right up his street. He looks well over-priced.

It is difficult to know who is going to be running in the other races as plenty of horses have multiple entries due to the weather uncertainties.

However, I’m very interested in Gary Moore’s GORES ISLAND in the handicap chase (2.15pm).

This 10-year-old has won six races in his career and three of those have come when the going has been heavy.

He put in an excellent performance at Ascot last time when it was not soft enough and he has a lovely racing weight. He should go close for the in-form Josh Moore.


Gores Island e/w 2.15pm Chepstow

Portrait King e/w 1.45pm Chepstow

Already advised

Mountainous e/w 1.45pm Chepstow

Emperor’s Choice e/w 1.45pm Chepstow

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