Evan Williams: 'He's a ridiculously short price at 7-2 in a race such as this'
Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) | 3m6½f | 4yo+ | ITV4/Sky
The Welsh won the race a year ago with Potters Corner and the well-punted Secret Reprieve leads the charge for the home nation after his impressive 12-length success in the warm-up race for this at the track last time.
Available at 14-1 after that win earlier this month, the six-year-old is now a general 7-2. He is due to go up 12lb in future handicaps as a result of his demolition of The Two Amigos and Bobo Mac but carries just a 4lb penalty in this race.
Secret Reprieve heads a two-pronged attack on the marathon from the Evan Williams stable who are seeking to win the race for the first time after a string of near misses, including Prime Venture, who was fourth a year ago and is back for another crack.
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Williams, fresh from his success with Silver Streak in Kempton's Christmas Hurdle, said: "It's a massive ask to win a Welsh National with a horse such as Secret Reprieve, who is so inexperienced.
"That will be against him without a doubt but what is on the plus side is that he's well ahead of the handicapper, is unexposed, has a feather weight and we know he handles the track.
"He's a ridiculously short price at 7-2 in a race such as this, but I do think he's a very nice horse. He'll only get this one chance to run in a Welsh National off this mark, so we'll give it a go."
On his other runner, Prime Venture he said: "He's a tough and genuine horse on his day. He's a funny old devil and can blow hot and cold a bit.
"He was as sweet as a nut when he won first time back at Sedgefield and has been in great form since at home. He was beaten only a couple of lengths in it last year when he was fourth, so we thought we'd roll the dice again."
What they say
Paul Nicholls, trainer of Yala Enki and Truckers Lodge
The pair of them won't mind how wet it is. They both ran good races to be placed in the race last year and have nice chances again. Yala Enki ran just about a career best when second at Cheltenham the time before last and the weight won't be a bother to him. Truckers Lodge is on a higher mark than he was last year but in between he bolted up in the Midlands National.
Richard Hobson, trainer of Lord Du Mesnil
We've planned to run him in this race for sometime and we ran him over shorter than this at Aintree last time, so we didn't bottom him out. He's in very good order and enjoys wet ground, so we're hopeful.
Sam Twiston-Davies, rider of The Hollow Ginge
He ran a cracking race to be fourth at Newbury last time when he proved he was up to this level, and the owners are hoping he can make up into a Grand National horse one day, so he should go well.
Tom George, trainer of Springfield Fox
It can't be wet enough for him, so hopefully the meeting goes ahead as his whole season has been geared up for this race. He's in top shape and is good to go.
Nicky Martin, trainer of The Two Amigos
He has a couple of pounds to find with Secret Reprieve on their running in the Trial for this last time, but he has proved he stays this far in the past, whereas the other horse hasn't. Fingers crossed it's on but I've entered him for Cheltenham next week if it's off.
Oliver Sherwood, trainer of Dominateur
This has been the plan for some time and he goes there off a nice racing weight. He'll like the ground but it's just a question whether he's good enough.
Joe Tizzard, assistant to Colin, trainer of Christmas In April
He needs a lifetime best to win it but we know he likes the trip and the ground. He has a nice low weight given the conditions and hopefully he can progress further.
Tom Symonds, trainer of Bobo Mac
He came out of his third in the Trial race for this in good shape and would have an each-way chance. It's nice to have Sean Bowen back on him and the pair had a good association last year.
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