Welsh Grand National – Iles of hopes at Chepstow

The Welsh National at Chepstow is amongst the staples of Christmas racing – when the weather doesn’t wreak havoc – and ranks amongst the most gruelling races on the calendar.

It rarely fails to bring a great story, with Native River winning two years ago before landing Cheltenham Gold Cup glory last season, while 12 months ago teenager Raz De Maree carried another teenager, jockey James Bowen, to victory in a thriller!

Here are three horses worth considering for this year’s Chepstow showpiece!

Connections confident on Baie hopes

Baie Des Iles ran in this race two years ago and finished an honourable fifth as Native River and Raz De Maree cleared away from the chasing pack by some 15-lengths. She would go on that season to win a Grand National Trial at Punchestown in Ireland and has been picking up useful experience ever since.

Now seven-years-old, she’s Chepstow bound once more. Baie Des Iles was sent off as short as 17.00 to win the Grand National at Aintree in the spring just past.

It didn’t happen for here there but she won a French Grade Two next time out. With a reappearance at Auteuil behind her, connections are confident the mare can go well and she will relish the testing ground and thorough examination of stamina. At 11.00, She may well improve on that fifth-placed effort from 2016.

Can Vyta Roc for Henderson?

This is one of the prizes missing from Nicky Henderson’s CV and perhaps the champion trainer has an understated candidate here in Vyta Du Roc.

He’s the only entry from Seven Barrows and looks overpriced at 23.00. He was well touted for the 2017 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury but underperformed before romping to victory at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day over the Gold Cup trip on heavy going.

The manner in which he came up the hill bodes well for this test. He was pulled up on his return at Bangor in November, his only run this season so far, but that sub-par effort is factored into the equation and if he bounces back he can go well at big odds.

Williams has handy contender

Venetia Williams has twice won the Welsh National and her horses are renowned for making the best of testing ground.

Yala Enki is a prominent racer that can prove a tough nut to crack on his day, as he showed with wins in the Haydock Grand National Trial in February and again last month on his reappearance at Bangor over three-miles – a trip just about as short as he’d want.

The eight-year-old will have his share of weight to carry here but is a tough customer on his best form and, given his trainer’s record, is worth an each-way shout at 21.00 in the big event at Chepstow.