Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 17:28 27/12/2013
The Jonjo O'Neill-trained Merry King is strongly fancied to run a big race in tomorrow's Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow and after tipping the horse in the ante-post market at 14-1 at the very least we have a value bet as the mount of Richie McLernon is now no bigger than 10-1 to claim the £100k marathon which is certain to be run in testing conditions after the recent heavy rain.
A maximum field of 20 are set to go to post for the extended 3m 5f stamina test headed by the classy Tidal Bay who faces a formidable task in giving lumps of weight away to some decent opposition, although the 12-year-old ran out an easy winner of the 2012 Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, a race which was run under similarly testing conditions. Hennessy Gold Cup fourth Highland Lodge looks attractively weighted on 10st 6lb while Well Refreshed, Goonyella and Hawkes Point are all interesting contenders towards the foot of the handicap, but at the 12-1 available with Paddy Power last season's half length runner-up Teaforthree could be the one to cause Merry King the most problems.
The Rebecca Curtis-trained son of Oscar is all about stamina and as well as that fine effort behind Monbeg Dude the 9-year-old had previously won the 4m National Hunt Chase at the Festival. Sent off the strongly-fancied 10-1 third favourite for the 2013 John Smith's Grand National the mount of Nick Scholfield found only Auroras Encore and Cappa Bleu too good, only giving best after jumping the final fence. Off a career-high mark of 153 Teaforthree does not look particularly well-in but with promising rider Patrick Corbett in the saddle his 5lb claim could make all of the difference at the business end of the race and like 12 month's earlier another big run is expected.