Naps king Paul Jacobs makes his ante-post selections for the King George and the Coral Welsh National
Naps king gives his view on King George and Welsh National
As we move into the heart of the National Hunt season there are several question marks over the big guns (Altior, Douvan, Thistlecrack, and of the younger brigade, Our Duke) and also a changing of the guard with the likes of Coneygree, Cue Card and others on the wane.
Of course the big race of the month is the King GeorgeVI Chase on Boxing Day and the market is making this a two-way go between the enigmatic Might Bite and Thistlecrack.
Not since Kauto Star have I seen a more impressive winner of the race than Colin Tizzard’s then novice Thistlecrack last year, but his injury at the back end of the season does cast a doubt over his return.
At his best I think there would be little between the pair, but fine margins are there to be excavated and MIGHT BITE is without doubt the right favourite having put in a sublime round of fencing at Sandown Park on his seasonal debut.
That should have taken the freshness out of him and the only possible negative would be the advent of soft ground which rarely visits the Sunbury-on-Thames track during the festive period.So grab the 5/2 about the new kid on the staying block and the 8/1 about Nicky Henderson’s star for the Cheltenham feature in March as well.
The Coral Welsh National has always been a favourite punting race of mine ever since a run of no fewer than seven, seven-year-olds farmed the race in the early 80s from Narvik at the start of the decade through the likes of Burrough Hill Lad, Righthand Man and that old war horse Bonanza Boy.
Courtesy of his comeback success at Chepstow, Rock The Kasbah has been made favourite in plenty of lists and he must have solid claims, but the value further down the betting has to be the old boy FIREBIRD FLYER (33/1) and the less exposed ROBINSFIRTH (20/1).
The former had a lovely warm up for this testing marathon, a race he has been second and eighth in 2015 and‘16 respec- tively,when third to the progressive Prime Venture at Ffos Las over hurdles.
Robinsfirth has only had the four starts over fences,but the further he has gone the better he has looked.
Outpaced at the top of the hill and handicapped by some less than fluent jumping, the eight-year-old stayed on strongly up the hill and it is worth noting that the son of Flemensfirth is arguably more at home on a much softer surface and should have loads more to come over this extended trip.
The Becher Chase on December 9 is also worth touching upon as it’s race that many punters and pundits alike feel is a good guide to the big race in April, but that is rarely the case.
It’s a fact that so many horses stay around three and a quarter miles,but four and a quarter even on good ground is beyond most stayers.
But this shorter trip is a different kettle of fish and I have already invested on MALA BEACH at 20/1.
The Gordon Elliot charge is only one from nine in his chasing career to date, but has raced beyond three miles only on three occasions,finding the 3m 5f too far in the Irish National, but this intermediatte trip with a bit of give in the ground would be perfect.
He is by and large a safe jumper and I know that his handler feels that off a mark of 149 he is still very well treated. Stable mate Ucello Conti would be a viable back-up.