Betting Tip: @ 15/2 with williamhill
14:50 The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase, 3m1f
Last year’s 1-2-3-4: The Druid’s Nephew (8/1), Grand Jesture, Gallant Oscar, Indian Castle – 24 ran.
Favourites have a dire record in this race with just two – Antonin in 1994 and Wichita Lineman in 2009 – obliging in the past 30 years, so that doesn’t bode well for the Warren Greatex-trained Out Sam, assuming he does go off favourite – shading it currently at around 7/1. But the stats aside, he looks to have a fine chance as he’s an improving youngster on a potentially generous mark of 139 and has been trained for the race. What’s not to like? Top price: 15/2 BetVictor.
Who else is fancied?
Holywell has been the horse for money in the last 24 hours and Jonjo O’Neill’s charge has got himself well treated again, having lost the plot in three starts this season. He won this race in 2014 off 145 and 12 months later ran fourth to Coneygree in the Gold Cup, so his latest mark of 153 seems very fair. However, his backers are banking on him coming back to form once again in the spring and that’s far from a given and even his trainer has described him as a “monkey” who has own ideas about the game these days. He’s not for me.
O’Neill looks to have a solid second-string in Beg To Differ, who has improved gradually over fences this season and looked better than ever when winning at Sandown last month. Aidan Coleman rides. Kruzhlinin is also worth considering as he looked much improved on his first start for Philip Hobbs at Kempton in January. His main target is the Grand National, for which his stamina is unproven, but he should have no problem staying this trip.
Neil Mulholland is another trainer with two strings to his bow and it’s hard to split his Carole’s Destrier and The Young Master, both of whom have shown they have what it takes to land this, although there are better handicapped horses in the race.
And the rest?
There is plenty of possibles further down the betting list and with winners at 50/1, 33/1 and 28/1 in the last decade, it’s clear you shouldn’t let a big price put you off. Irish raider Morning Assembly is a ‘skinny’ 14/1 and the 2014 RSA third, who has returned with two decent runs in Ireland over inadequate trips, could be a real force. Others in with a shout are Theatre Guide, who looked better than ever when winning the Betbright Chase at Kempton, albeit off an 11lb lower mark, and Paul Nicholls’ Southfield Theatre.
Of those at bigger prices, Katenko makes some each-way appeal as he was considered good enough to run in the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup and, having largely disappointed since and missed a large chunk of last season, he now finds himself on a potentially lenient mark of 147, which is 8lb lower than his last winning one. You can ignore his pulled up effort on his reappearance at Ascot in December as he was travelling strongly when making a bad blunder as the race was hotting up, forcing his rider to pull him up.
Best bookie offer?
Paddy Power are refunding losing stakes on the second horse home as a free bet up to £25, while Boylesports are refunding stakes in the same way if your horse finishes second to the SP favourite.
Trainer quote: “I think he’d be competitive in the RSA, but he’s got a mark of 139 after his Newbury win so I’d be silly not to look at handicaps. I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet – better ground will see him at his best.” – Warren Greatrex on Out Sam.
What’s the verdict?
I’ve got the utmost respect for OUT SAM and I’m not going to let the record of favourites out me off having a saver on him at very least. However, I can’t resist a few quid each-way on the veteran KATNEKO for the reasons given at silly odds. I’m also encouraged by his trainer’s habit of springing shocks in festival handicaps, with three of her six winners were sent off at 33/1 or bigger.
Betting Tip: @ 15/2 with williamhill