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Fahey predicts 'massive performance' from Welsh National hope The Big Dog

The Big Dog: strongly fancied for the Welsh National
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Christmas is coming and so too is The Big Dog – to Chepstow – with Peter Fahey predicting a "massive performance" in the Welsh Grand National from a horse whose season has been centred around winning the festive highlight.

Fahey has had a big red circle drawn on his calendar around the Welsh National since The Big Dog returned to training in the autumn, and the Monasterevin-based trainer is confident his dour stayer can devour his rivals on December 27.

The Big Dog has already proved his ability in stamina-sapping handicap chases when winning the €80,000 Grand National Trial at Punchestown last season, and connections have high hopes of landing another a major payout this Christmas.

'I'm confident he can run a big race in it'

Speaking in his Weekender stable tour, Fahey said: "He is owned by Damien and Colin Kelly and they picked out the Welsh National from a long way back, so he has been training for that ever since he came back into work.

"I know he was beaten a long way on his comeback at Wexford, but he's never been suited by small-runner races, and you saw that in his beginners' chases.

"He was a different horse when he won the Grand National Trial at Punchestown. He just loved the hustle and bustle of a major handicap, and I think you'll see the real The Big Dog when he runs in the Welsh National.

"He had a nice run in a handicap hurdle at Navan on Sunday and he'll have one more racecourse gallop, which should leave him spot on for the Welsh National.

"He ticks all of the right boxes for the Welsh National and I'm confident he can run a big race in it."

Peter Fahey: "The Big Dog will relish conditions at Chepstow"

Jamie Codd partnered The Big Dog to that career highlight at Punchestown last season, but the top amateur rider will not be in the saddle at Chepstow due to suspension, leaving Fahey on the lookout for a replacement for the 12-1 chance.

He said: "Not having Jamie is a bit of a killer because he knows the horse so well and he suits him. I have been in touch with the jockeys' agent Dave Roberts about a rider for him, and I'm hoping to have something sorted in the coming days.

"I think he'd be a great ride for anyone in the race. To tell you the truth, I'm expecting a massive performance."

Entries for the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow

Should The Big Dog live up to Fahey's billing, he would sugar coat what has been a dream year, after a Cheltenham festival victory and a Grade 1 success at Aintree with Belfast Banter.

The trainer said: "It's been an unreal year, absolutely unreal. We have a team of winter horses that we've never had before and, unlike other years, I'm actually praying for rain.

"The Big Dog will relish conditions at Chepstow. I actually think he's made for the race and it would be great to sign off on the year with a big winner in a race as prestigious as the Welsh National."

Read Peter Fahey's Stable Tour in the Weekender, out on Wednesday, or members can read it online here

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I think he'd be a great ride for anyone in the race. To tell you the truth, I'm expecting a massive performance
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