The Irish Challenge
Raz de Maree is an admirable horse, who gives it a good shot every time, but he ain’t getting any younger. He’s as tough as nails and tries his heart out, but it’s hard to believe he’s well-enough handicapped to win. Last year’s run was great, but he’s a year older now, and it’s not often that 13-year-olds do well in the Welsh National.
Folsom Blue is a horse that could do it. He loves soft ground, and will love the trip, but he’s a small horse, and it’s a big field around Chepstow. It’s a long-distance race, of course, but it’s an awkward start running down from the winning post past the grandstand, before climbing right back up into the back straight.
You need sharp early pace, and a horse with a bit of early boot, so I’d worry about Folsom Blue. He could find himself in a bad place early on, but if he could overcome the difficulties he might get into in the first mile and get himself into a good position for the second mile, he may be a big player.
So, who will win?
Vicente is a dual Scottish National winner, but he runs best on good, or even good-to-firm ground at times. It’ll be a tall order for him to win on this ground at Chepstow.
Rock the Kasbah is unexposed. Philip Hobbs’ horses are coming back into form, and he may be targeting a win here – Rock the Kasbah would be my pick.