Second up on Wednesday is the RSA Chase, for novice chasers over three miles. There's a bit of a boom over the favourite here, and after endless debate over which race he should run in, he lines up here in the classier race.
Making his debut on the blog is aspiring Irish writer, Robbie Fahy, @rfahy00. Welcome aboard!
3m 110y, Grade 1 Novices' Chase
The RSA has been quite an open race over the last number of seasons. Three of the last five winners have been double digit odds in the market (12/1, 10/1, 16/1) and you have to go back to 2009 (Cooldine) to see the last time a favourite has triumphed in the Novices race.
Winning this race requires many things, accurate jumping, a good traveller and most of all, the hardest thing to find in a novice, a stout stayer. That trick usually does not develop until the later years but with a good quality renewal, it is certain that the winner will need to get every yard of the 3 miles 110 yard contest.
Here are the runners as they appear in Racecard order:
Apache Jack – Having maintained Dessie Hughes licence after his tragic passing, it would be fitting to see this 7 year-old son of Oscar triumph on what is sure to be a tough day for trainer Sandra Hughes. He was third in last year’s Albert Bartlett hurdle but has been indifferent over the larger obstacles so far this season. Beaten from a long way out last time out by a horse in Very Wood who failed to land a blow in the Amateur Riders race on the opening day. Hard to see this one writing that fairy-tale realistically.
Don Poli – A leading fancy in both ante-post markets for the two races he was entered in (this and the four miler on Tuesday), this 6 year old gelding looks ready to give Willie Mullins his fifth winner of the meeting. He ticks all the boxes that I stated at the outset, He jumps well, is a stout stayer and has travelled well into all of his races to date. He won the Conditional Jockeys hurdle here last year beating a horse in Thomas Crapper who has run creditably here yesterday and in my view, is still outstanding value in the race at the current price.
If In Doubt – A very interesting runner for Philip Hobbs given that he was due to run and very publicly aimed at the Midlands National this coming Saturday, so why the sudden change in direction? The 10lb hike he would have had to carry following his success in the Sky Bet Chase is the likely answer however it is still interesting that he takes his chance in the stronger company. He is not always convincing in the jumping department however and the strong gallop along with the drying ground will push his jumping to the limit. If I was backing him I’d have to take the fallers insurance on this one.
King’s Palace – An unusually poor jump lead to his demise in last year's Albert Bartlett but he’s shown he respects the larger obstacles in three chase outings this season and is one of the main dangers to the above selection. Crucially he’s won twice at the course, showing he loves the undulations of the course which, much like the camber at Epsom can cause a lot of problems for the novices. All of his wins have come in fields of 11 runners or less so he doesn’t need to be dropped in and is one of the more straightforward runners in the field. Expect Tom Scudamore to press on from three or four out and try and take the finish out of the rest, but don’t be surprised if this move is ultimately his undoing close home.
Southfield Theatre – Paul Nicholls' charge has a lot to find here in my estimation. Sent off odds on favourite in small fields his last four runs, I would be very critical of what he has actually beaten en route to taking his place in this year's line up. Paul Nicholls hasn’t won this since he done so with Denman in 2007 and I’m far from saying he would have to be that good to win this year, more that I believe that he was a Dan Skelton runner instead of a Paul Nicholls charge, he would be a much larger price and much better value for the punter. Over-rated and under-priced.
The Ould Lad – While Tom George’s runner is worth his place in the line-up on official ratings, he seems like he is handicapped to the hilt based on his recent place effort at Leicester. A beaten favourite his last twice and it looks increasingly like he has reached his ceiling in terms of improvement. Trainer not adverse to sending out a big priced winner however and one of his runners on the opening day “God’s Own”, ran a cracker, but probably best watched on all known form.
The Young Master – A very progressive Chaser this season, defying every mark the handicapper threw at him and winner of over £100k in prize money this year alone. Yet to be tested in Graded company however and despite beating a few useful horses along the way this is still a big step into the unknown in terms of quality of race so it will be interesting to see how he handles it. Excellent jockey booking in Barry Geraghty who has won on him a couple of times and will know how to get a tune out of him. Well capable of being in the shake up and picking up some place money at the end of the race.
Wounded Warrior – Second string of Gigginstown and rightly so. Beaten already by Don Poli this season and also by Gilgamboa, who was bitterly disappointing on his next start and has not even made the trip to Prestbury Park for Willie Mullins. This bay Gelding does have ability however and will see out the trip, which could potentially see him pick up a place for each-way backers. Paul Carberry will drop him out and wait to pounce until the last second so if any of the more fancied runners go off too fast, then he could well be left to pick up the pieces. Place chances.
Adriana Des Mottes - Another Rich Ricci runner for Willie Mullins but one that definitely looks like it could be out of his depth. Every race he’s won has taken a severe knock on the form book and he was beaten convincingly by Apache Stronghold when last seen at Leopardstown. 25/1 sums up his chances accordingly and could very well be under instructions to go out and make the gallop for other runners. Not suggesting that this would be an overly obvious tactic considering a different owner for the other animal but there are precious other reasons as to why this one has been given a run in this kind of a race.
Overall – I’ve stated from the beginning that I am a huge Don Poli fan and even at a skimpy 2-1 I cannot bring myself to oppose him, given a clear round I feel that he will be too good for this and will move onwards and upwards to better things.
For each-way and Placepot backers looking for value I think that both The Young Master at 5/1 and Wounded Warrior at 12/1 could run a big race given the right conditions.
1. Don Poli
2. The Young Master
3. Wounded Warrior
4. King’s Palace