What are the best bets in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase?
17:30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Steeple Chase, 3m2f
Last year’s 1-2-3-4: The Package (9/1), Bless The Wings (28/1), Buddy Bolero (20/1), Grand Vision (11/1) – 24 ran.
David Pipe has won two of the last five runnings of this race and he has an obvious candidate again with Doctor Harper, who is vying for favouritism. A useful bumper / hurdles performer, chasing was always going to be his game and after a couple of near misses, including when chasing home Garde La Victoire at Ludlow, he came good in a three-runner affair at Leicester last time. The handicapper must have liked what he saw as he gave him a rating of 141, which prevented him running in the novice handicap (2m5f) on day one, but that may be a blessing as this sort of trip promises to suit him better and he has a top amateur in Will Biddick up. Top price: 11/2 bet365.
Who else is fancied?
Gordon Elliott’s Cause Of Causes showed stamina was his strong suit when winning the four-miler at last season’s festival and then going on to finish eighth in the Grand National won by Many Clouds. Still only eight, he has been a remarkable horse for connections with a Ladbroke Hurdle and a close second (off 2lb lower) in the 2014 Kim Muir on his CV and they moved quickly to secure the services of leading Irish amateur Jamie Codd, who has steered home the winner in three of the last seven runnings, twice for the Pipe stable it has to be said.
And the rest?
It’s safe to say there isn’t a better handicapped horse in the race than The Giant Bolster, whose connections have opted to exploit his 139 rating rather than run in the Gold Cup for a fifth time. He’s finished second, third and fourth in chasing’s blue riband but he’d be doing no more than making up the numbers in that race now at the age of 11, whereas he has a clear chance in this. His owner Simon Hunt is not so sure, though, and is worried the race may not be run to suit He said: “If we ran in the Kim Muir amateur riders’ race they will go off a hell of a gallop. If my horse doesn’t get his position and we are sitting 18th of 24 after half a circuit we would be finished. He could get beaten in a selling race if he set off wrong.”
Others worthy of a mention are Upswing, whose second to Sausolito Sunrise here in November is solid form, and the hat-trick seeking pair of Silvergrove and Sambremont. Given the record of the Pipe stable – David’s father Martin won this race thrice including with a couple of outsiders – you also have you to respect Doctor Harper’s three stablemates: Top Wood, who bounced back to form at Ludlow last time and carries a 5lb penalty here, Alternatif and Amigo.
Best bookie offer?
There are several free bet offers worthy of a mention, including Paddy Power and William Hill, who are refunding losing stakes as a free bet (up to £25) if your horse finishes second.
Trainer quote: “I think he’ll benefit from going up in trip and I hope he’ll be one of our best chances of the week. He is versatile regarding the ground but I think he’ll be best with some cut.” – David Pipe on Doctor Harper.
What’s the verdict?
A tough race to solve and it certainly doesn’t harm to have a couple of stabs at finding the winner. I’ve done well from following the Pipe stable in this down the years and, having already put a handicap winner on the board this week (Un Temps Pour Tout), they can strike again with DOCTOR HARPER, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his stablemate TOP WOOD outruns his 25/1 price tag with Katie Walsh likely to give him a positive ride from the front. They could take some pegging back.