'He's definitely no 16-1 shot' - Hobson confident Welsh National runner can fire
Lord Du Mesnil's trainer Richard Hobson is expecting specialist ground on Saturday for the rescheduled Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow, with the meeting needing to pass an inspection on Friday scheduled for 2.30pm.
Waterlogging forced the cancellation of the fixture in its usual festive slot of December 27, and now wintry showers and snow are forecast at the track.
Officials are hopeful of passing Friday's check, but conditions will be testing, and Hobson thinks last season's National Hunt Chase runner-up can cope much better with the underfoot conditions than many of his rivals.
"We don't know exactly what the ground will be like when they take the covers off though I assume it will be pretty tacky," said Hobson, whose entry is 16-1 despite putting together a string of excellent staying performances last season.
"He goes in it and he won at Haydock in very deep, tacky conditions, though wet soft would be his ideal ground.
"If the ground is really that tacky when they take the covers off there are a lot of horses it's really not going to suit. I walked the course before he won the Last Fling Chase up at Haydock last season and I thought, 'my God this is holding', but he went through it."
Lord Du Mesnil won the Tommy Whittle and aforementioned Last Fling at Haydock last season before finding only Smooth Stepper too good in the Grand National Trial at the Merseyside venue.
He rounded off the campaign with another second when chasing home Ravenhill in an attritional National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham over nearly the same trip as Saturday's test.
Hobson added: "He's in great order and he's been ready to run for a couple of weeks so we're looking forward to giving it a shot. We know he stays three-miles-six and this has been very much the plan."
Reflecting on two unplaced efforts this season, Hobson said: "The novice hurdle was just meant as a pipe-opener but it came up good to soft and it was a bit sharp for him around Kelso.
"We ran him over two-miles-five in the Grand Sefton for the simple reason I didn't want to bottom him out before the Welsh National, while still getting a feel for the National fences before the spring.
"As it happens I could have run him in Becher Chase as he would have been fine with the gap given the delay to the Welsh National.
"He's definitely not a 16-1 shot, that's for sure."
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