KEEP everything crossed that Chepstow gets the better of the cold snap.
The Welsh Grand National has already been lost once this season and as one of the best punting races on the calendar, let's hope we're lucky this time.
Many of the same faces who had hoped to line up for this three-figure pot on December 27 are back again.
And once more the hotly-fancied Secret Reprieve heads the market at a general 4-1 for the Evan Williams team.
There's no secret to his case. In fact it's quite obvious.
He runs off a rating 8lbs lower than his official mark – meaning he's one big stride ahead of the handicapper.
In layman's terms he's racing off an 8lbs lower weight than he should be. And in a near four-mile slog in the mud, that is a big deal.
He's by far and away the likeliest winner and at 4-1 with the likes of sponsors Coral and Ladbrokes I wouldn't put a sole off chancing him.
At bigger odds I also like the chances of The Hollow Ginge – a 20-1 shot with the same bookmakers.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained eight-year-old has taken his time to thrive over fences.
But judged on his creditable fourth in the Ladbrokes Trophy to runaway winner Cloth Cap, things are certainly starting to click now.
And this race should suit him plenty better than that test did.
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Softer conditions are a must for this horse, and the increased stamina test will be his bag and then some.
He races off the same mark here, and that 144 rating looks fair enough. Given he should improve again in preferable conditions, there is a lot to like.
Lightly-tried chasers tend to do well in this race – think Elegant Escape, Native River and Emperor's Choice, all in recent years – and he ticks plenty of boxes.
He may not reach the same heights as some of these in the long-term, but looks a cracking each-way bet in Wales's big race.
Dominateur would be another on the shortlist with Springfield Fox, even if the bookies have them a good few points shorter.
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