The race takes place over three miles, five and a half furlongs and over 22 fences, probably on soft/heavy going, and will test the stamina reserves of all the contenders. There will be no hiding place for non-stayers.
The Welsh Grand National is often a stepping stone to Aintree Grand National glory, not always necessarily in the same calendar year, but it’s certainly a race that tests a horse’s credentials for taking on Merseyside’s blue riband event.
The Welsh National roll of honour includes Aintree Grand National winners, the likes of Corbiere in 1982, Earth Summit in 1997, Bindaree in 2003 and Silver Birch in 2004 as well as Cheltenham Gold Cup winners - Burrough Hill Lad in 1983, Cool Ground in 1990, Master Oats in 1994 and Synchronised in 2010. It’s a veritable who’s who of Chasing greats.
Here is a look back at the last ten years of trends and statistics on the Welsh marathon race.
6-y-o (1), 7-y-o (3), 8-y-o (5), 11-y-o (1).
10st 10lb+ (4) 10st 9lb or under (6)
It is worth noting that since the turn of the millennium all six Welsh Grand Nationals that have been run on heavy going have been won by horses carrying 10st 9lbs or less.
- 10/10 winners ran in the last 55 days
- 9/10 winners finished in the first four last time out
- 9/10 winners won over 3m+ at a left-handed track
- 9/10 winners had finished in the first three in a Listed or Graded Chase
Trainer success (with runners this year)
R.Lee/K.Lee (2), P.Nicholls (1), V.Williams (1), P.Hobbs (1), M.Scudamore (1), C.Tizzard (1).
Last year Native River (11/4f) was a rare winning favourite. Silver Birch (100/30f) in 2004 was the last winning favourite prior to that.
Vicente (current odds 14/1)
With five horses above him taken out of Wednesday’s race, the Paul Nicholls-trained Scottish National winner will have to shoulder the welter burden of 11st 12lb if taking up his entry.
Rock the Kasbah (current odds 8/1)
The seven-year-old has enjoyed a nice break since his comeback win at Chepstow and his liking for the course could be a crucial factor. Rock The Kasbah can boast form figures of 22111 at the Welsh track.
He has given every indication that he'll stay, and the going conditions should not bother him at all.
Beware The Bear (current odds 7/1)
Nicky Henderson’s improving stayer Beware The Bear has been the clear favourite in most lists for the Welsh National after overcoming a slipping saddle to win Newcastle's Rehearsal Chase off a mark of 145.
Henderson has never won the Welsh Grand National (or any National for that matter) and does not claim to be a fan of it due to the conditions that usually prevail on the day.
These are worrying statistics for any ante-post punter but he still remains strong in the market.
Chase The Spud (current odds 8/1)
Fergal O'Brien's improving staying chaser Chase The Spud is a popular pick for the race. The nine-year-old was last seen winning at Haydock on Betfair Chase day, staying on dourly in testing conditions to record his fourth chase victory.
One of those four victories happened to be the Midlands Grand National which he won back in March.
O'Brien reports Chase The Spud to have taken those Haydock exertions well and is looking forward to sending him across to Chepstow to contest yet another National.
Ask The Weatherman (current odds 12/1)
Former pointer Ask The Weatherman arrives at the Welsh National following a gusty win under top weight in a handicap chase at Exeter.
The eight-year-old carried 12st 4lb to victory to score by ¾ of a length, continuing an excellent start to the licensed trainer's career for Jack Barber.
Ask The Weatherman won open point-to-points at Larkhill and Trebudannon last season, plus a hunters' chase at Wincanton, but in the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival he floundered and could do no better than seventh of the 23 runners.
Barber put that performance down to the ground being too quick for him that day and he will certainly get conditions more to his liking on Wednesday.
Mysteree (current odds 12/1)
The nine-year-old makes his first start of the season in the Grade Three contest which his trainer Michael Scudamore won in 2012 with Monbeg Dude.
Winner of the Eider Chase on his penultimate outing, the former Lucinda Russell-trained gelding was last seen finishing second to Chase The Spud in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter in March.
The horse has a good record fresh and stays all day in the going.
Folsom Blue (current odds 12/1)
Placed in an Irish National during his time with Mouse Morris, the 10-year-old has “warmed up” for a tilt at this Welsh marathon by running in two hurdles races for his new trainer Gordon Elliott.
A change of scenery appears to have sparked some new vigour into the gelding and Elliott has proved he is very astute at placing his runners in the right races.
Final Nudge (current odds 12/1)
The David Dennis trained Final Nudge appeared to be going extremely well when coming down four out in the Midlands National last year and he also ran a massive race in the Badger Ales on his seasonal return.
This race has been on the cards for the eight-year-old for some time.
Raz De Maree (current odds 16/1)
The twelve-year-old ran a superb race to finish second to Native River in the Chepstow showpiece twelve months ago and is only 1lb higher this year. He geared up for another tilt at the race by running in a 3m handicap hurdle at Southwell.
Raz De Maree has won the Cork National twice, the Munster National and has been runner-up in both the Welsh National and the Midlands National.
As he approaches his thirteenth birthday he still appears to be a willing partner in these distance handicaps.
888sport suggests: Raz De Maree (E/W)
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*