Got to love Christmas, not that it’s always been a story of family cheer for me. More on that later! Anyway, to the Welsh Grand National on the 27th. Chepstow usually does pay if you can race somewhere close to the pace.
So who am I going for? I’m going to tip Yala Enki each way. On his second start for Paul Nicholls, I thought he ran okay in the big handicap in Newbury. It gets quite heavy there, really testing. I always enjoyed riding there. It’s a lot of jumping, a great track, but it does get testing – and I think Yala Enki has what it takes to deal with that.
Hopefully, it comes in and brings you all some Christmas cheer. Which, on that note, hasn’t always been the case for me. I had to go to England early to spend Christmas to make sure I got to ride the next day one year. It was the first year my wife and I were married, and we were supposed to go to Carlow, to Gillian’s parents for Christmas, and the fog was terrible, so Gillian rang a cousin of her mother’s, who was a pilot, and he said, if you can go, go.
So, we started driving to Carlow, drove to Dublin airport and went to England for Christmas. I rang AP McCoy. I went to stay with him so it was grand. Wake up Christmas morning, first-year married and no presents, no nothing!
I’ve tipped who I think will win the King George in another piece but I’ll reiterate it again that I think pace is key. Pacey horses tend to win moreso than sluggers. You would see plenty of horses who can win King Georges but may not get home in a Gold Cup. Kauto Star managed to do it, Best Mate managed to do it, so did See More Business. Great horses can do both, but a lot of horses can excel at Kempton and struggle at Cheltenham. So, pace is a huge thing.
Thistlecrack was second in last year’s race, I don’t know how he’s going to reverse that for Clan Des Obeaux. I think Cyrname, Lost in Translation, Clan Des Obeaux, are three I think that’ll finish in front. Thistlecrack was a very good horse, but he’s a bit older now, he’s had a few injuries, and I just don’t think that he will be placed in this year’s King George.
They haven’t announced the jockeys, but we know what’s going to happen. Harry Cobden has his choice and if he goes for Clan Des Obeaux then Sean Bowen will take Cyrname. If Harry picks Clan Des Obeaux I would find that interesting. My choice of ride would be Cyrname and it’s my pick for the race too.