Chepstow confident Welsh National will survive the elements

Chepstow clerk of the course Keith Ottesen is “more than hopeful” the Coral Welsh Grand National meeting will go ahead at the second attempt on Saturday.

The prestigious fixture had to be abandoned due to waterlogging when originally due to take place on December 27, but was swiftly rescheduled.

The official going at the Monmouthshire circuit remains heavy, but forecasts for the coming days are giving Ottesen reason to be optimistic.

He said: “I don’t want to speak too soon, but the forecast, at the moment, isn’t looking too bad.

“We’re just about raceable as we stand and it looks like an improving situation for the rest of the week.

“There’s a few tiny showers around and we might get a little rain on Wednesday, but it’s forecast to be dry on Thursday and maybe Friday as well.

“There’s a few showers forecast for Saturday, but, as we stand at the moment, we’re more than hopeful we’ll be racing.

“The forecast for this week is more favourable than it has been for a while, so I want to be positive.

“Having said that, we all know forecasts can change so I don’t want to be categorical.”

Two past winners, Emperor’s Choice and Mountainous, feature among 33 horses confirmed at the five-day stage.

The former, trained by Venetia Williams, made a timely return to action for the first time since his success 12 months ago when scoring at Haydock in November.

Mountainous, triumphant in 2013, will bid to win for rookie trainer Kerry Lee, who took over the reins from her father Richard at the family’s Presteigne stable in the summer.

She is also represented at this stage by Russe Blanc and Goodtoknow.

Three of the ante-post market leaders – Jonjo O’Neill’s Upswing, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Cogry and Alan King’s Midnight Prayer – have stood their ground.

Vics Canvas (Dermot McLoughlin) is one of three potential Irish challengers along with the Mouse Morris-trained Folsom Blue and Patrick Griffin’s Portrait King.

Welsh trainer Rebecca Curtis has three possible runners in Bob Ford, Red Devil Lads and Audacious Plan.

Others in the mix include Emma Lavelle’s Shotgun Paddy, the Colin Tizzard-trained Theatre Guide and Woodford County from Philip Hobbs’ yard.

McLoughlin is undecided on whether to let Vics Canvas make the journey.

The 13-year-old was last seen finishing a fine fifth over the Grand National fences in Aintree’s Becher Chase.

McLoughlin said: “I’m not 100 per cent sure whether he’ll go for the Welsh National yet.

“I still have to talk to his owners. He went up 8lb.

“His owners will tell me if they want to go. As it was they wanted to go and they were going to try to claim off him."


Lifestyle

Orlagh Kelly owns The Reading Room bookshop on Main Street in Carrick-on-Shannon in Co Leitrim.We sell books: The Reading Room - ‘Small bookshops, curated by people who care, make a difference’

As Stockton’s Wing release a retrospective album, Mike Hanrahan tells Donal O’Keeffe about getting back on the road, and his love of cookingStill a beautiful affair: Mike Hanrahan talks about getting back on the road with Stockton's Wing

An ongoing cull is resulting in a major reduction in the deer population in one of the country’s most visited natural attractions.Donal Hickey: Deer birth patterns evolving

A Courtmacsherry neighbour, Kathy Gannon tells me that when the tide is out, the vast acres of clean, grey mud of the bay reflect the sun in splendour in the clear, sharp air.Damien Enright: ‘How enchanting for humanity that we have birds’

More From The Irish Examiner