Had the Coral Welsh Grand National been run on December 27th, then surely there would have been a wave of support, attention and/or scrutiny on Bryony Frost’s mount Yala Enki – as she had stolen the King George VI Chase from the front on Frodon the day before. Tactics not dissimilar she no doubt would have also attempted to employ on Yala Enki.
Fast forward nine days, and the tactics in Bryony Frost’s head will not have changed a jot, but maybe there will be a slight chance that there will be less emphasis on this particular theme. There are a few horses set to line up who will want to be prominent (and it wouldn’t be a Welsh National if there wasn’t), should the final declarations be similar to the initial declarations for the race – Springfield Fox, The Two Amigos, Lord Du Mesnil and Yala Enki’s stablemate Truckers Lodge have all been seen to best effect when going forward early.
At 12/1 with Paddy Power who offer 5 places now for each-way purposes, Yala Enki is the standout bet of the race for me, and that isn’t likely to change whatever the weather does in between today and 3.10 on Saturday. What could change is the place terms once the final field is declared, as William Hill offered a whopping 7 places in the race prior to cancellation a week ago. So, while I am very keen on recommending Yala Enki for the race, I am also not dissuading you from displaying a degree of patience before placing the bet.
Third in the race last season on second start for the all-conquering Paul Nicholls stable, he went on to win the valuable Portman Cup over 3m 4½f at Taunton, and then finish third in a gruelling Grand National Trial at Haydock, when perhaps the freshness had just been squeezed out of him.
It is not impossible to suggest that if Yala Enki had been asked to go and win his race on seasonal reappearance from an earlier stage at Cheltenham in November, then he may just have been able to repel the re-opposing Ramses De Teillee that day.
A first fence casualty over the National fences at Aintree in the Becher Chase followed, when not quite giving the different style of fence his due care and attention. That early mishap may well have done his Welsh Grand National chances a favour on two fronts – he will be a fresher horse for not being subjected to a hard race, and he won’t have had to tinker with his jumping technique too much, as he only jumped one National fence, with jockey intact, in public!
Yala Enki has bottomless stamina, handles all kinds of testing ground (and it will surely be that ‘tacky’ type of ground, as the frost covers have been laid earlier in the week), and now crucially Bryony Frost will have the trust in his stamina, fitness and resolution, that she can ride him in an appropriate manner, and expressed as such in a news article today.
The likes of Secret Reprieve, Springfield Fox and Dominateur are among the young improvers in the race, but as ever with this so attritional of contests, it can often take one slightly longer in the tooth and more grizzled to prove ideally suited. In the last five years, there have been a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old winner.
Should Yala Enki win on Saturday at 3.10, he will add his name to the double figure club as an 11-year-old, but had the race been run in its original post-Christmas slot, he of course would have been a sprightly 10. At 12/1 now, or similar once declarations are out, he is very difficult to knock out the frame, at the very least.