14:10 RSA Chase
You only have to look through the record books to see that this is a race which is often won by a proper old-fashioned staying chaser. Recent winners include the likes of Blaklion, Don Poli, Lord Windermere, Boston Bob, Bobs Worth and Denman all stayed longer than the mother-in-law and on the anticipated soft ground, I’d predict this to be another slog.
Champ has been the long time ante-post favourite for this race and has been as short as
4/1 since November. The fact that he is only 1 point shorter now highlights that he is a horse who massively divides opinion. He was putting in his best round of jumping to date in the Dipper on Trials day at Cheltenham in January when he fell two out and that has to be a worry. Might Bite is the only RSA winner since 2002 to have fallen in any of their last three starts. Clearly, he is a talented horse but he is yet to prove himself as a horse that is able to put everything together on the big occasion and there will certainly be no hiding place in a red hot renewal.
Last year’s impressive
50/1 Albert Bartlett winner, Minella Indo, heads the Irish challenge and is everything that Champ isn’t. He isn’t particularly flashy or exuberant but has oodles of stamina. Ridden by the outstanding Rachael Blackmore, his margin of victory at Navan in his Beginners Chase was unspectacular but his jumping was fast and accurate and he battled all the way to the line. He was only beating a low-140 rated horse in Captain CJ however, and this will be a great deal tougher.
Copperhead has been very popular with punters ever since his emphatic victory in the Reynoldstown Chase. He has improved with each run this season and relishes soft ground as was evident at Ascot. His two principal market rivals that day ran no sort of race and the pace somewhat collapsed gifting him the race by a wide margin. I’d also have question marks about him following up so soon after such a gruelling race – all of his rivals arrive here fresh and I can’t help but feel that this race has not always been the plan for him.
It is interesting that Gordon Elliot has brought over last year’s beaten Ballymore favourite, Battleoverdoyen, after repeatedly saying that he was unlikely to travel after struggling with the exertions at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. He fits the bill as a slogger who stays the trip but he was very flat on his last start and there are too many question marks around him to be anyway confident.
My selection for the race is ALLAHO. I am slightly surprised that they have not opted for the Marsh Chase on Thursday as that looks a more winnable race on paper but you have to commend connections who have always stated that the RSA was the plan. He is still very lightly raced with only three hurdle states and two runs this season over fences. It’s a cliché, but everything he did last season over hurdles was very much a bonus. He has looked a natural chaser this season; firstly at Leopardstown when just emptying after the last after travelling strongly on his first run for seven months.
He stepped up on that effort markedly when trouncing a competitive field at Fairyhouse. He was very impressive on the clock that day with Timeform’s Simon Rowlands commenting after the race: “Arguably the one the clock speaks most persuasively for, however, is Allaho. The placed horses are rated in the 130s and Allaho pulverised them by 21 lengths and more, running fastest late on and relatively much the fastest overall of three chases on the day.” He was one of the horses that Ruby was upset to be missing out on after retiring and I think we will see why on Wednesday.
4/1 with MansionBet
All odds correct at time of publication.