Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Diamond Jubilee National Hunt Chase preview

Stepping up to take on Wednesday's toughest looking race is David Plane, @planey2k. You can read more of his musings on his blog

Chicago Grey’s crown will be handed over to another Irish chaser tomorrow in the shape of WP Mullins’s Soll. See him in the flesh and you’ll be forgiven for double-taking, as this son of Presenting - built muscular, with a dark, liver chestnut coat and a huge pair of lungs – resembles famous Cheltenham favourite Denman.

Soll, who will be ridden by Katy Walsh, has drifted from favouritism in the market, with Mullins’ son Patrick preferring stable companion Allee Garde, and Sir Alex Ferguson’s Paul Nicholls trained gelding Harry the Viking slightly shorter with most bookmakers. Most punters will appreciate both the decision-making significance of the younger Mullins and the experience of Allee Garde, so it’s difficult to argue against him, but everything I’ve heard coming from his father suggests confidence in Soll, particularly with regards to his credentials over a longer distance. You pays your money, you takes your chance, as the ridiculous saying goes.

Other contenders exist in the shape of Teaforthree (who I last saw pull up behind Grands Crus in the Feltham at the Kempton Park Boxing Day meeting), Alfie Spinner (who won at Chepstow over 3m at Christmas, finished 3rd behind Invictus and Bobs Worth, ahead of Silviniaco Conti at Ascot in February and is partnered by “The Dentist” tomorrow), Universal Soldier at 14-1 (who’s been beaten by Teaforthree in the past) and Four Commanders (who’s been there or thereabouts this year and has a couple of wins at half the distance asked of him here). It’s 20-1 bar, but don’t let that put you off looking further down the betting for some value. Four out of the last 10 winners of this stamina-testing four-miler were priced up greater than 25-1, and Chicago Grey was the first outright favourite to win the “Challenge Cup” in 20 years, offering perhaps a tenuous reason to oppose Allee Garde at the head of the market. Please feel free to accuse me of myopia with regards to this one though, as I’ve had my eye on Soll for some time now, and am probably not the most objective blogger to ask for a more balanced opinion!

If Soll can tank home tomorrow it will hand Mullins a title that, as a jockey 30 years ago, he won for his father, triumphant in 1982 on board a horse called Hazy Dawn. Backers who got 12-1 about Soll a few weeks ago will undoubtedly be celebrating for the rest of tomorrow afternoon’s racing and well on into the west country dusk.

Listen to Sportingbet.com’s “Cheltenham Chat” to hear why Soll is my tip for the week.

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