Saturday’s Coral Welsh National Preview

Ceebee previews the re-arranged Coral Welsh National on Saturday and he has an each way bet on the dour Irish stayer Portrait King at 33/1.

1.45 Chepstow 3m5f

The Welsh Grand National will (eventually) take place on near unraceable ground. There’s plenty of dour staying slow-boats in this, but the one which makes most appeal is Portrait King.

There’s not many who stay better whilst handling the mud. He’s won an Eider at Newcastle (4miles) and twice more at 3m4f and 3m1f on soft/heavy ground at Punchestown. This will be a tough test and Portrait King ticks both the important boxes. In his most recent win, this weekend last year, he traded 1000 on Betfair having looked tailed off. Over 3m1f he was just too slow to stay with the principals, but when they tired in the testing ground, he finished off the race strongly. The additional 4f here will definitely help him mid-race.

He may be 11 now, but having missed some time with injuries he’s far from done with. In fact his most recent run was highly encouraging. He fell 2out in the Becher Chase when still in contention. Given we know how well he stays, jumping the 2nd last just 3 or 4 lengths off the leaders with a long run-in ahead, I think Portrait King was going to go very close to winning the Becher. Had he done so we wouldn’t be mopping up 33/1 here. He runs off the same official handicap mark here.

His last win came off 127 and was 2nd off 132 next time. His Eider win came off 131. There’s enough in there, along with his last effort off 132, to suggest he can get very competitive off this mark of 132.

A fall last time out is always a worry, but as he’s fallen over the unique National fences before (was actually running well in the National on spring ground that wouldn’t have suited last April) and I’m happy that he’ll be better in the jumping department back over regulation fences.

Plenty of those at the top of the market ran at Cheltenham in November. It is form I’m sceptical of. Whilst Upswing, Cogry and Shotgun Paddy were chasing home Sausalito Sunrise, the likes of Spring Heeled and Romford Pele were getting tailed off with a mile to run. However both were only beaten 8L and 6L respectively at the finish. That brings the strength of the race into question. Sausalito Sunrise also got put in his place rather easily next time out. Neither Upswing nor Cogry are fully proven at this sort of trip and ground combination either.

Mountainous is well handicapped based on his 2013 win here but he tried on both his last starts at Sandown and came up short both times. This will be a tougher test than either of those races.

Emperors Choice faces a tall task off 10lbs higher than last year when he got up in the final stride. His last Haydock win came in a fairly poor race. He’ll need to be at his very best here.

The form of the Paul Nicholls yard must be a worry for Black Thunder. His mark is still a little harsh for what he has achieved. Drop another few lbs and I’d have him on the Aintree shortlist.

Benvolio is interesting having had this race as his target since going down by the narrowest of margins last year. The negatives include stable form and his own form. Despite aiming for the Welsh National I still expected more the last twice.

Theatre Guide, Folsom Blue, Audacious Plan and Midnight Prayer all had likeable profiles for this so the fact none of them were declared is a good thing for fans of other entrants.

Portrait King ticks plenty of boxes whilst it’s easy pick holes in many of those at the top of the market. Don’t let his age or small time trainer jockey combination worry you. This slow grey won’t be stopping when many have cried enough.

Advised Bet

1.55 points each way Portrait King at 33/1 with Betfred, Ladbrokes and Boylesports