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RSA Chase preview

Day 2, Race 2, and quelle surprise, there's a Mullins horse as favourite! It's the RSA Chase and making his debut on the blog, it's a warm welcome to James Cosgrove, @jcosgrove277.

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RSA Chase

A race for the purists, a race that appears to be the ideal race for all the novice chasers we read about every autumn. Those horses that are said to be three-mile chasers in the making, a race for the real National Hunt fan.

This year's RSA Chase doesn't appear to be (on paper) a very strong renewal, though very competitive. It has, at times, produced Gold Cup winners of the future but has also produced as many winners that have failed to win another race. At times, it can be a very gruelling test for inexperienced horses and results tell us that since 2004 we have had four winners at odds of greater than 10/1.

Ballycasey has always been well-regarded by connections and after being a late non-runner last year, this will be his first start at Cheltenham. He managed to make a winning chase debut at Navan, despite being inconvenienced by a mistake and a trip that wasn't far enough for him. That form worked out with both the runner-up and third horses both winning shortly after. He still has to prove his effectiveness at this trip but his running style suggest there won't be an issue. He is a Grade 1 winner and providing the schooling fall hasn't affected his confidence, he would need respecting.

The other three Irish contenders have all beaten each other at some point in the season and look quite difficult to split. The first I would discount is Don Cossack who has stamina to prove and on the face of it he had no excuses behind Ballycasey last time. Carlingford Lough is fully exposed and has proven that he can run to a consistent mark but you would worry that something may improve beyond it today.

On that basis, we are left with Morning Assembly who was beaten behind Carlingford Lough at Christmas but worth marking up as he looked like he may improve when given a stiffer test over 24f. It is probably worth noting that he beat Ballycasey over hurdles last spring and he looks like he has all the right credentials for this race.

Smad Place is the shortest priced runner from the home contingent and has yet to show his best form over fences. He came up short in this company over hurdles but was capable of running to a high level and has to be respected. I am slightly concerned that, despite receiving weight, he could only beat Sam Winner by two lengths.

I am keen to take on Corrin Wood who in my opinion will get a culture shock in a race that will be run at this pace. He will not get his own way up front and without the assistance of Jason Maguire, who has ridden him in three of his four wins, he has plenty to prove.

Le Bec has to be respected as he has twice run well at this track and should turn around the form of his last run with Sam Winner at the revised weights. He came up short over hurdles in this grade but the stable were not going particularly well last year and he has already proven to be a much better chaser. I do worry about his jumping under pressure but he looks to be overpriced and has to be respected.

Of the bigger prices, I think both O'Faolains Boy and Annacotty are slightly overpriced. The former showed his best form at Ascot last time and given that he was not beaten too far in the Albert Bartlett last year, he looks to be improving at the right time of the year. Most of his form has come on soft ground which is a worry but he is lightly-raced, stays well and has an excellent jockey booked. Annacotty won a substandard renewal of the Feltham but at least proved that he gallops and jumps well. Those attributes should give him a good chance but he looks as though he will come up just short in a stronger Grade 1.

Recommendation: The Irish form looks to be a cut above the best of the British and Morning Assembly looks like the one to beat for me. My only real doubt about his credentials are that he has no previous form at the track but he is a sound jumper who looks to have plenty of class.

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