Kasbah ready to rock in Welsh National
Chepstow specialist has a big chance at 14-1
The Coral Welsh National is always a gruelling test of stamina and I've felt for some time that the Philip Hobbs-trained Rock The Kasbah is tailormade for it.
The idiosyncratic nature of Chepstow often exposes weaknesses in those that challenge it, but the stamina-laden demands of the often muddy undulations pose no fears for Rock The Kasbah, as form figures of 22111 at the track would testify.
They get racing a long way out at Chepstow, especially in this race, but he jumps well and stays forever.
Hobbs is clearly keen to make the most of his jumping, running him at the track in October to sharpen up that side of his game ahead of this big target.
I often like to see horses have their prep run over hurdles in order to protect the chase mark and Rock The Kasbah has gone up 7lb for that win, but more valuable jumping experience should at least stand him in good stead and offset the weight rise.
In any case, a revised mark of 149 may still underestimate this unexposed gelding, who ran a cracker on ground much quicker than ideal in last season's bet365 Gold Cup. He never looked happy that day and was outpaced before rallying up the Sandown hill to finish sixth.
He'll be much better with plenty of juice in the ground and it would need South Wales to turn into Costa Del Chepstow for my enthusiasm to wane.
Then it comes down to price and the current 14-1 makes plenty of appeal.
Many of the others near the head of the market have other engagements in the build-up to the race and may well head elsewhere come Christmas.
I am much more in favour of horses who are trained and targeted specifically for a given race and Rock The Kasbah will be trained to the minute for this assignment.
I can see him starting around 7-1 or shorter on the day.
Ed Quigley writes Tipping Point in the Racing & Football Outlook - out every Tuesday