Marathon master McCain has ideal Welsh National type in Sydney Paget
There’s more than a modicum of knowledge about winning the biggest marathon steeplechases in the game pumping around Donald McCain’s bloodstream and his 10/1 shot Sydney Paget looks precisely the type to add to the family’s prestigious haul in the Welsh Grand National.
The names of Red Rum, Amberleigh House and Ballabriggs are synonymous with Aintree and its English equivalent, but the six-year-old could be primed to add the Welsh Grand National to the Scottish one in the McCain scrapbook.
At this stage many of the intricacies of form are dependent on the presence of Tidal Bay in the race with the mercurial veteran’s rating of 163 set to force all but 14 runners to race from outside the handicap.
Sydney Paget is not one of those afflicted.
His rating of 145 currently finds him allotted a weight of 10st8lbs, a handy factor if the fact that seven of the last 10 winners carried that exact weight or less is to have any bearing.
In recent years the Chepstow marathon has, in common with its Liverpudlian cousin, witnessed a rise in success for classier combatants.
Since 2006 four of the seven winners and 13 of the 28 placed horses were deemed worthy of a BHA mark of 142 or higher.
Nor should you be put off by Syndey Paget’s tender age.
Nine of the last 10 victors were no older than eight, while runners aged between five and seven won seven of those races and claimed 10 places despite comprising a total of 60 runners during that period.
The McCain horse was installed as favourite when Coral open the books on the race they sponsor, but punters shouldn’t be put off backing him at a price of 10/1 on value grounds.
Just three champions were sent off at an SP longer than Paget’s price in the last 10 renewals, with no winner bigger than the 20/1 about Dream Alliance’s fairy-tale success in 2009.
Then there’s the matter of his form.
Having taken a medal on all four completed runs on heavy going there’s little chance he’ll come unstuck in the heavy, gluey ground that usually accompanies the race.
Indeed he won his sole start round Chepstow by eight lengths on soft ground.
Meanwhile his sole run this season was deeply impressive, with the six-year-old eased down to beat a 2009 Welsh National runner-up Silver by Nature, well-fancied for this year’s renewal before a fatal injury on the gallops.
The Cholmondeley yard that his handler works out of couldn’t be in better nick either.
No trainer with a runner in the race can boast a better strike-rate from more than four runners in the last fortnight than McCain’s 30 per cent.