Run For Paddy will attempt to join an elite list when he contests the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow today. Trained by the former jockey Carl Llewellyn, the 10-year-old won the Scottish version of the race at Ayr last season and will attempt to emulate Bindaree, Earth Summit and the incomparable Red Rum as horses who have won multiple Nationals.
Llewellyn turned his hand to training only last season after taking over from Mark Pitman at Weathercock House in Lambourn and Run For Paddy's success at Ayr was his first winner as a registered handler. He also rode it.
This season Run For Paddy has performed with great credit at Wincanton and Cheltenham and would appear to be coming to the boil at just the right time. "He's obviously in good form, but there aren't many races for him," Llewellyn said.
"He's probably a bit better on better ground, although he has run well on soft ground as well. He ran well on soft ground at Wincanton first time out this season and at Warwick last year when he was only beaten a little way, giving a lot of weight away."
Run For Paddy will carry 10st 9lb as he races from a handicap mark of 139 - 4lb higher than when he grabbed the Scottish National. "He's a bit higher in the weights and not quite so good on this ground so he has it to do," Llewellyn said. "There aren't many staying races to go for so he'll take his chance."
Seeking his third consecutive Welsh National is the champion trainer, Paul Nicholls. He saddled Silver Birch and L'Aventure to victory in the last two renewals and the latter is attempting to seal a repeat victory. Nicholls also has the race's top weight, My Will, and Lou Du Moulin Mas running for him, with Ruby Walsh riding the latter.
"The big two have to be last year's winner, L'Aventure, and Ruby Walsh's mount Lou Du Moulin Mas, but to be honest I wouldn't like to split the pair of them," Nicholls said .
"L'Aventure has run only once this season to keep her fresh for a crack at this. She's versatile, stays forever and always runs really well at the track.
"Ruby hasn't ever got on particularly well with her, whereas he does get on very well with Lou Du Moulin Mas, so that's why he's on him. Lou has run really well this season since he had a breathing operation.
"My Will did nothing wrong last time when third in a good race over three miles and three furlongs at Cheltenham. He's got top weight but he will like the trip. We'll be using a claiming rider, Paddy Merrigan, which will help a bit, but it's going to be hard to win this off top weight.
"But he's so consistent, that he'll be top weight wherever he goes, so that's why we're running at Chepstow."
The Alan King-trained Halcon Genelardais has been ante-post favourite since winning his prep race over hurdles last month and heads the market at odds as short as 5-1.
Nap: Sister Etienne