Chepstow preview: Coral Welsh Grand National (13.45)
David Metcalf | January 8, 2016
The rescheduled Coral Welsh Grand National takes centre stage on a cracking card at Chepstow (13.45) this Saturday, and Upswing looks to hold major claims of providing trainer Jonjo O’Neill with his third winner of the 3m 5f contest.
O’Neill saddled Mini Sensation and Synchronised to victory in 2002 and 2011 respectively, and like Upswing they both carried the colours of leading Irish owner JP McManus.
The seven-year-old was a useful staying hurdler who has shown progressive form in just four starts over the obstacles.
Upswing on upward curve after Cheltenham run
After opening his account in good style at Worcester when scoring easily by eight lengths, Upswing posted a career-best performance last time out when chasing home Sausolito Sunrise in a competitive 17-runner contest at Cheltenham.
The gelding was held-up at the rear by jockey Barry Geraghty before making stealthy headway three from home and staying on strongly after the last to go down by just 1 1/4 lengths.
It was a most taking performance for one so inexperienced and, although Upswing has been raised 3lb for it, he remains unexposed over fences and open to stacks more improvement.
The son of Beneficial also revels in testing conditions and, with Noel Fehily in the saddle, everything looks in place for a huge run.
Mountainous seeking to regain Welsh National crown
There are plenty of dangers in a typically wide open and fierce renewal, and Mountainous may well emerge as the biggest.
The gelding won the race in 2013 when trained by Richard Lee, battling on gamely to beat Hawkes Point by a head off a mark of 137.
Now in the care of Richard’s daughter Kerry, the 10-year-old is able to race off 5lb lower having caught the eye last time out at Sandown.
Mountainous was held up in the early stages before making good headway at the ninth to chase the leaders , and was bang in contention two from home before weakening approaching the last to finish a seven length sixth of 15 to Carole’s Destrier.
That was his third run back from a lengthy lay off and Mountainous should now be spot on to do himself justice.
Connections have made no secret that this has been his target for some time, and Mountainous is a bold jumper who revels in the mud and looks sure to make a bold bid to win the race for a second time.
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Coral’s top tip: Upswing looks decent value to land a cracking renewal of the Coral Welsh Grand National. Former winner Mountainous is weighted to run a big race