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Welsh National preview

It's a week late and the BBC are no longer covering it, but the 2012 Welsh National will finally be run at Chepstow this weekend. Making his debut on this site with the preview is Ben Homans, @blue_bajan, a young blogger who is very keen on National Hunt racing. Read more on his blog.

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The Welsh National is a race which can sometimes find the horses at the top of the market out and it will be interesting to see how the ground is after a few races at Chepstow early raceday. With the re-scheduled meeting taking place now, it has seen a shake-up in the overall line up.

Looking at previous big race updates - We see value has been somewhat of an error and age. Bobs Worth and Long Run being overlooked because of the value of the SP and Hello Bud, a mighty age of 14 only just too good for our selection in Join Together. Hopefully we can find a genuine winner of this gruelling 3m 5f race!

Across The Bay who heads the weights looks to have a likeable profile, with a win next to his name on heavy ground and has a likeable attitude, which he showed when charging back at Wayward Prince last time at Aintree. He is a top horse in his own right, but I think it would be some performance to win off such a big weight against some of his rivals today. Jadanli from Ireland has a reasonable form line back on November 25th where is heavy ground run in a competitive race showed he could mix it up, but his ability looks to be limited on the whole and another who has things to prove at present. A grand old servant in Mon Mome appears, but has not had much promise in recent seasons since 2009 national success, but is just making up the numbers today.

Triggerman of Phillip Hobbs was in my eyes a horse to take seriously in his races a few years back, but since his win at Cheltenham and a great 4th in the BET365 Gold Cup, his long lay-off and increasing age just showed his ability might well be on the decline and is another passed over.

Monbeg Dude was a surprise package at Cheltenham in November when beating a good yard stick in Bradley. It was a win in soft ground and off a light weight which he has today too. Carberry will be sure to ride him patiently out the back and could be a danger. His win at Lingfield a few runs back isn't that promising and he does have another 7lbs rise in the weights for his recent success. He has a tough race that day and although he can complete, I'm not sure he will be at the front. Harout of Peter Bowen's looks like he has all the stops to pull out and will struggle to run a good race. Incentivise is a nice horse and I can remember when Michael Murphy used to ride him around Chepstow. This was in a much lower grade and will find a few too good in this race. Arbor Supreme is a horse I have previously backed at very large odds a-post at (80/1) for the 2010 Grand National behind Don't Push It when going off at 16/1. He unseated at the 15th and since left Willie Mullins. He plugged on over 4m at Exeter last time but with so many disappointing runs in the mean time, he would need a career best to win this. Soll was passed over for the Hennessy and ran an ok 8th in the race. He was held that day by Teaforthree and you would imagine he is still learning as his is lightly raced. Alfie Spinner has a first preference for Sandown so is solely ruled out on the entries. If he was to run in this, he wouldn't be far away but is an expected non-runner.

It was a tiring race last time for Master Overseer when beating Quartz De Thaix at Cheltenham last time in heavy ground. He battled well that day to win for the Pipe yard and could be dangerous if he wasn't put up another 5lbs for his win. This might could a bit quick for him, but Midlands National success could be in mind again for him this year. Our Island, from the Tim Vaughan yard features being 2lbs out the handicap. He was held on by Arbor Supreme and lacks the overall type to win such a race. He may run a competitive one but would expect to be not seen at the finish. Sona Sasta is a local owned horse and has many talents within his owners grasp. His quirky high head carriage makes me wonder whether he can take the Welsh National. He needs to settle bet and was reluctant to race at Cheltenham last season. Stamina worries too, he'd be one that would seem to wonder where the win could come from. Giles Cross, a likeable sort who has finished 2nd in both the 2010 and 2011 running of the race, he has ran a brave one both times. His yard was shu tdown for illness recently and the yard hasn't had a winner, 8lbs higher than last year too, he would be a stab in the dark for most punters in his 3rd Welsh National he has contested. Teaforthree is a horse who has to be taken considerably on his 4m race win at the festival and has had two solid runs this term in the Hennessy and at Cheltenham. After his Cheltenham run, he would have benefitted from the run and he ran a good race for a long way in the Hennessy. I do like the Rebecca Curtis trained 9 year old and he will run a big race. There are concerns to how he will face in the race, his jumping isn't the strongest and I'd have question marks on him trying to come from behind if he falls back.

Viking Blond's poor run in this last term is fresh in my memory. He couldn't get his own way from the front and eventually pulled up. His last win was at the course in October 2011 and although running bold races since, he is a frustrating horse and would need many things to fall right. The selections I have narrowed it down to to take the Welsh National are Universal Soldier and Michel Le Bon. Universal Soldier didn't run well at the track in his first season chasing and now he is a second season chaser, I believe that he could improve from his run last time behind Quart De Thaix when staying on still at Haydock last time in similar ground. Charlie Longsdon has been labelled not to be a 'Saturday Trainer', where I think he hasn't been given the credit for building up a decent team near the Cotswolds. Im a firm believer, this could be a horse that make a noise for the yard. Michel Le Bon has been highly tried in a Hennessy and has ran a brave race in the Badger Ales chase at Wincanton last time, where The Package had him at it turning in. A more positive ride from Ruby Walsh could prove to be a sucker punch for his rivals.

Selections - Universal Soldier and Michel Le Bon

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