What are the best bets in the RSA Chase?
4:10 RSA Steeple Chase, 3m1/2f
Last year’s 1-2-3: Don Poli (13/8f), Southfield Theatre (13/2), Wounded Warrior (12/1) – 8 ran.
The ante post betting has long revolved around the Gordon Elliott-trained No More Heroes, who has done nothing wrong this season in winning his three chase starts and his easy nine-length beating of Rule The World at Leopardstown in December is arguably the best piece of form on offer. Prior to that, he’d accounted for Monksland in a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse and, while he’s done all his winning on very soft ground, he is bred to be even better on a sound surface. Top price: 5/2 Betway (9/4 bet365 NRNB).
Who else is fancied?
The horse for money in the last week or so has been Jonjo O’Neill’s More Of That and he is now disputing favouritism with some firms. He couldn’t have been more impressive when beating Annie Power in the World Hurdle two seasons ago and promises to be just as good over fences judged on his two novice wins at Cheltenham this term. The form is nothing special but his canny trainer has a knack of getting horses to peak at the festival and the best is – as they say – to come.
And the rest?
Since coming to grief at the Open meeting here (going best at the time), Blaklion has really got his act together over fences, making amends for his previous fall when winning over 3m11/2f at the track in December and producing a career-best effort to land a Grade 2 at Wetherby last time. That tuned out to be a real slog in the mud, though, and it remains to be seen how much it has taken out of him. He loves the mud so drying ground would be a negative.
Blaklion finished behind Seeyouatmidnight in the Dipper Novices’ Chase over 2m5f here on New Year’s Day and that horse went on to land a hat-trick over fences with a penalty kick (1/8 favourite) at Kelso in February. He’s another who has done all his winning on soft ground but his trainer Sandy Thomson is adamant he’ll cope with a faster surface. A real natural over fences, he won’t be far away.
This is a deep contest and several others are worthy of a mention, most notably Nicky Henderson’s Vyta Du Roc, who would surely have finished an honourable second in last season’s Neptune had he not made a complete mess of the last, before going on to chase home Thistlecrack at Aintree. That’s seriously good form and he showed what he could do over fences when stepped up to 3m in the Reynoldstown (a key trial) at Ascot. The form of that Grade 2 needs treating with some caution, though, as the two market leaders took each other on early and the winner was left to pick up the pieces.
Black Hercules could be Willie Mullins’ main representative, having been switched from the 4m National Hunt Chase (for which he was favourite), and he needs respecting, though he finished a well beaten seventh in last season’s Albert Bartlett and made an unforced error when falling at the last in his prep race – last-time fallers rarely win the RSA.
Trainer quote: “ I just like the way he jumps and tackles the whole thing. He always has a flat spot in the middle of a race, he used to over hurdles and he was a good hurdler too. He was fourth in the Neptune where he landed on all fours at the last. He is getting it together now.” – Nicky Henderson after Vyta Du Roc’s Reynoldstown win.
What’s the verdict?
Clearly, the front two are the ones to beat but I simply can’t get involved at current odds and I’ll be amazed if they don’t drift to around 3/1 on the day given the strength of the opposition. I’d just be favouring No More Heroes over More Of That, whose fencing has not exactly been snappy, but faster ground is a worry for the Elliott horse and he looked quite slow when third in last season’s Albert Bartlett. Let’s take them both on with VYTA DU ROC, who should be suited to the way this race is run and will be staying on better than most (he’s still in the four-miler). Drying ground is another positive. I can forgive Paddy Power going one fifth the odds on this race (several are 1/4) given their free bet offer and ‘non-runner no-bet’ concession.
SELECTION: Vyta Du Roc each-way @ 12/1 Paddy Power NRNB & money back if 2nd