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RSA Chase preview

Excellent work from @marcowenbanks who will be writing a few previews for the blog this week.

Grands Crus plans are finalised and the RSA Chase it is, in preference of the Gold Cup. BOBS WORTH is still in the picture although The Old Bill might want a word!

So David Pipe has finally made the decision that GRANDS CRUS should run in the RSA. A good decision in my mind as I don't think the Gold Cup is any place for a Novice and it could have ruined the horse. Not such a good decision if, like me, you had been getting heavy on alternatives thinking he was indeed going to throw him in the deep end.

So GRANDS CRUS is the one to beat, no one is in denial of that, the question is can anything else in the race actually do it. There is no doubt he is a frightening talent. Unbeaten in three outings over fences, he has also proved he is more than capable of coming up the Cheltenham Hill in winning here twice over hurdles previously and the proud boast of being the horse who has got the closest to Big Bucks over the smaller obstacle when a length and three quarters down on him in the World Hurdle at last years festival. He made his chase debut a winning one over the Cheltenham Fences beating good markers in Champion Court and Zaynar and has gone on to remain unbeaten beating the likes of the now absent Silviniaco Conti and the re-opposing BOBS WORTH at Kempton on Boxing Day. There looks to be little point in opposing him in this race, unless of course you consider the 7/4 odds too short. In the great scheme of things, if he is one of the "Bankers" that everyone is talking about including the obvious defending champions, he could turn out to be very good value at the price. So what of the opposition?

BOBS WORTH has won on all three of his previous visits to Cheltenham, albeit over hurdles including last season’s Albert Bartlett Over 3 miles. His two previous wins here came over 2m4f. What we do have on our hands with Nicky Henderson’s charge is a gutsy little gelding who will give his all regardless of conditions. He won his debut over fences, beating Cue Card a short head at Newbury over the 20 furlong trip. Stepped up to 3 miles next time out he was taking on Grands Crus and Paul Nichols’ Silviniaco Conti at Kempton in the Feltham Chase, he kept on well enough at the end, but could make no impression on the front pair. There is no real reason why we should expect him to improve beyond Grands Crus based on how easily the latter won the race. His second in the Reynoldstown threw some doubt for some into his chance, personally i think it will put him just right.

The Irish interest lies with FIRST LIEUTENANT and SIR DES CHAMPS. The former is reported as looking very sharp and the absence of Last Installment can only be a positive as he would have struggled to reverse their previous form. Sir Des Champs has seen plenty of support in the market and is certainly one for consideration for each way backers. A place looks the least he can manage and he could even pose a threat to the favourite if he continues to improve. Remember, this 6yo is precocious talent who is yet to taste defeat either over hurdles or fences; Another in the fearsome Mullins armoury for 2012. Tricky to split the pair the former is proven at the trip.

Paul Nichols only involvement now lies in JOIN TOGETHER. He has been fairly unassuming in what he has beaten in his last two outings, but has shown an ability to come up the hill at Cheltenham on both occasions, a best price 13/2 is not that appealing but he adds to what is a fascinating race. WALKON represents Alan King for whom there is much confidence coming into the Festival, the fact he seems to have gone backwards over fences in his three runs does not really leads me to want to get involved however even at 33/1. Not so the case with the other Mullins runners. LAMBRO is passed over in favour of stable mate CALL THE POLICE who is a standout 25/1 with Boylesports and looks to be crying out for the trip. It could be that he could run into a place. I am resisting the temptation of adding extra investment though. i think this is between the two heading the market.

I'm not adding any further investment to my Antepost tickle and BOBS WORTH remains my selection. Backing on the day I feel he will drift. 7/2, maybe 4/1 might be achievable as Grands Crus could gain further support, especially if the "bankers" go in on Tuesday which I expect them to

BOBS WORTH 1pt win. Try for 7/2 or bigger on the day

Read more of Marc's great material on his website


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Villiers Stakes preview

The highlight of summer racing in Sydney is the Villiers Stakes. Tasked with the preview is Mitch Fenton.


Villiers StakesRandwick, G2, 1600m
1615 local time, 0515 GMT

Form link

Twitter: @weekndkngracing
Facebook: /weekendking

The most reliable guide to the Gr2 Villiers has always been the Festival Stakes.

I’m going to stick with that form line; here’s the horses who ran in the Festival, running today.

1 I'm Imposing (55.5) 20-1
2 [0.1] Estonian Princess (54) 7-1
3 [0.3] Strawberry Boy (57.5) 6-1
5 [1.7] Sir Moments (56) 11-2
6 [2.5] Multilateral (54) 60-1
7 [3.8] Scream Machine (56) 20-1
8 [4.3] Aomen (58.5) 30-1
11 [6.8] Monton (60) 16-1
12 [8.0] Keep Cool (54) 80-1

Out of all those runs in the Festival, Strawberry Boy was a clear top pick for mine.

He worked very hard out in front with his 1500m to 600m times and was 3L quicker than the average. He was entitled to drop out of the race but instead he fought on dogged…