We've lined up a 20/1 and 50/1 shot for the National Hunt Chase in a bid to bash the bookies
Recent changes to the race conditions at Cheltenham National Hunt Chase have made it more like a 4m RSA Chase in terms of quality, and that’s helped it become far more punter-friendly.
In the decade before the changes, half the winners were priced at 25/1 or bigger, whereas under the new conditions the biggest priced winner has been 14/1 and three of the last four winners went off favourite. That points strongly to the current market leader, the Willie Mullins-trained Don Poli, who is on offer at a variety of prices ranging from 11/4 to 5/1.
Don’t be tempted, though, as he’s far from a certain runner and with bookmakers yet to go “non-runner no-bet” on the race (a week before if we’re lucky) you could be throwing your money away. That he has the credentials to land this is undisputed as he’s impressed in winning his last two starts, beating solid yardsticks Wounded Warrior and Apache Stronghold, and he promises to stay every yard of the 4m. However, he’s a Grade 1 winner and as a future Gold Cup prospect he’s far more likely, in my opinion, to run in the RSA Chase. Besides, his owners Gigginstown Stud have another live prospect in THUNDER AND ROSES.
He too is in the RSA but everything he’s done so far over fences marks him down as an out-and-out stayer who will relish this extreme test. In four runs over fences he’s looked better the further he’s travelled and it was pure stamina that allowed him to stroll to a 22-length success over an extended 3m at Fairyhouse in January. He had looked an unlucky loser prior to that when falling at the same track in December as he was still going well falling (his only mistake) two out. His form over shorter distances this season has been good too with solid placed efforts behind Apache Stronghold and Adriana Des Mottes.
His trainer Sandra Hughes, who took over the yard on the death of her husband and training legend Dessie in November, has said this race is his aim. That’s half the battle when it comes to ante post betting and there is every reason to believe he can improve again when encountering better ground in March. His sire Presenting has a habit of producing progeny who relish a sounder surface and, indeed, his full sister Shirley Casper showed her best form on good ground. That’s not a given of course but what seems more certain is that he will line up at the festival a good deal shorter than the current 20/1 on offer.
In addition to Don Poli, several other potential rivals could be switched to the shorter RSA, including The Young Master and Southfield Theatre. That leaves scope for backing another further down the ante post betting list and I can’t let DOING FINE go unbacked at 50/1 (20/1 in a place). He looked a stayer of real potential when grinding out victory on his chase / handicap debut at Ffos Las in October and there was a lot to like about his latest neck second to Cogry over 3m2f at Warwick, where he earned the form comment “stayed on stoutly.” Given he too is a son of Presenting, it’s not hard to imagine him turning the tables on the winner in March and his trainer Rebecca Curtis knows what it takes to land this having sent out Teaforthree to score in 2012.
Of the rest, you’ve got to respect the chances of the aforementioned Wounded Warrior, while last year’s winning trainer Alan King has another likely sort in Sego Success. However, they are both trading at single figures and are nowhere near the value of the two selections.