By Simon Jackson.
Emperor’s Choice and Mountainous, the winners of the past two Coral Welsh Grand Nationals, are set to clash in this year’s renewal at Chepstow on December 27.
Emperor’s Choice won the Grade 3 contest in 2014. He showed his well-being ahead of this year’s race when he belied a near 11 month absence to win a handicap chase at Haydock on his comeback last month.
The eight-year-old is one of three likely runners for trainer Venetia Williams, who also may also run Saroque and Rigadin De Beauchene in the extended three miles, five furlong contest that carries prize money of £120,000.
“Emperor’s Choice is heading back to the Coral Welsh National and is in good order,” said Williams who also won the race with Jocks Cross in 2000.
“It was a good comeback win at Haydock, although he does pay for it by coming back to Chepstow with more weight. But I am happy with him and the [heavy] ground looks like it will be in his favour.
“I am also planning to run Saroque and Rigadin De Beauchene. Saroque is already in the race while Rigadin De Beauchene needs a few to come out to be guaranteed a run, but looking at the race I’d say there is a good chance that might happen. They should both appreciate the ground at Chepstow as well.”
The 2013 winner Mountainous has been confirmed as an intended runner by his new trainer Kerry Lee, who took over the licence from her father Richard Lee who retired at the end of last season.
The 10-year-old was pulled up in the 2014 Welsh National and has failed to win in three starts this season on unsuitably good ground. He is reported to be in good order by his trainer who is hoping for rain.
“Mountainous definitely goes for the Coral Welsh National again. He is very well and I am very happy with him,” Kerry Lee said.
“He will have to carry a bit more weight than he did when he won the race before. He will like the heavy ground and I am happy for it to rain as much it wants at Chepstow!”
Coral Welsh National, Coral bet: 8/1 Upswing, Midnight Prayer; 9/1 Cogry; 10/1 Shotgun Paddy; 11/1 Emperor’s Choice, Mountainous; 12/1 O’Faolains Boy; 14/1 Black Thunder, Masters Hill, Theatre Guide; 16/1 Benvolio, Firebird Flyer, Red Devil Lads, Return Spring, Bertie Boru, Woodford County, Tour Des Champs; 20/1 Bob Ford, Saroque, Fourovakind; 25/1 Wyck Hill, Perfect Candidate, Audacious Plan, Rigadin De Beauchene; 33/1 Allez Vic, Folsom Blue; 40/1 Chase The Spud, Nail ‘M; 50/1 Lovcen, Russe Blanc; 66/1 Loch Ba, Barton Gift, Rendl Beach
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