For the second time this season, Elegant Escape has run a fantastic race over a distance which appears to be too short for him. This suggests that the only way for him to get his head in front this season will be in one of the big long-distance races we have.
His next stop could well be the Welsh National over the Christmas period, with the 2020 Grand National more than likely to be his ultimate aim. He would have to carry a huge weight around Aintree if he went there, after going up in the weights for his third-place run in the Ladbrokes Chase 10 days ago. He is now rated 164.
The rating is no surprise, we are talking about a high-quality horse here and one that has competed against some of the best-staying chasers in the game. He finished second in the Ladbrokes Chase off 155 last season and then won the Welsh National off 151 after that. So he has more to find off his current mark if he wants to be competitive.
However, I think he is a much better horse this time around, and ran a great race off 160 at Newbury. The 3m2f test of the Ladbrokes Chase is a strong one, and one that finds a lot of horses out. However, by the end of the race, there was no other horse staying on better than Elegant Escape.
This was similar to how he ran in the Charlie Hall Chase over 3m at Wetherby back in November. He was outpaced in that race before staying on strongly, suggesting that he now needs an even stronger test to be seen at his best.
We saw him take his chance in the Gold Cup last season over 3m2f and despite running a good race still finished in sixth place. The suggestion now seems to be that a trip to Aintree is preferred over another Cheltenham visit.
The winner of last season’s Coral Welsh National, if he wins it again on December 27th, his rating could go up to 170 or close to it. That’s when the Tizzard team may have to rethink their plan, as that would give the horse an almost impossible task at Aintree. Bear in mind that Tiger Roll is currently rated at 172.
Whether it is Chepstow or up at Aintree, it would be no surprise to see Elegant Escape pick up a long-distance win this season. And that’s just based on how he has run in his two starts so far this season. For the Coral Welsh National, he is currently the favourite on odds of 6/1.
He looks in better form than last season, and 3m is no longer far enough for him. The tougher the better it seems for this horse now.
His participation in the National could have an effect on all runners in the race. If Tiger Roll doesn’t run then Elegant Escape could bump up the weights, pushing others out of the handicap because of his rating.
Of course, this could put him well in compared to some in the race as they would be out of the weights. But he has to go there first and with so much of the season still to go, he could still take another shot at the Gold Cup.