National Hunt Chase
A punishing nearly four mile chase for novices, this race has often been won by lesser horses that are dour stayers. Last year however, looks to have been a standout renewal. Winner Galvin has won a grade one since and is second favourite for the Gold Cup. Next Destination is fragile but on his day has a lot of ability. Escaria Ten looks set for a run in the Grand National and fourth placed Snow Leopardess has won twice including the Grade Three Becher Chase. Remastered was 5th and he has been running some good races in defeat and might challenge in something like the Ultima.
This year we have a field that at the moment looks fairly strong, but this race does often cut up. We currently have joint favourites at 7/2, Run Wild Fred for Gordon Elliott and Stattler for Willie Mullins. Of the two my preference would be for Run Wild Fred, a proven stayer having finished second in last years Irish National over a near identical trip, he's also a second season novice as was Galvin last year and is battled hardened with lots of experience. This year he has ran three very good races. On reappearance he was second in a grade three over an inadequate two and a half miles, where he kept on well. He then finally won his first race over fences in the valuable Troytown Handicap. His most recent start was in the grade one Neville Hotels over Christmas where he was second to stablemate, Fury Road. There was two fences omitted including the last, which left a long run in which would have gone against RWF and benefitted Fury Road. The form is fairly strong as he was a further 10 lengths clear of last seasons Albert Bartlett winner, Vanillier. The concern with his is whether connections will send him to this race, as traditionally the aren't big fans of it, though did send Tiger Roll here. Gordon Elliott is clearly aiming him here, so hopefully he can convince connections.
Stattler has won both starts this year, a beginners chase over two miles and five furlongs, that day he actually showed a decent turn of foot. He then most recently, won a grade three over three miles and a furlong, beating Farouk Dalene by just over a length. I think Farouk Dalene blew his chances with a few poor jumps and could have pushed Stattler a little closer. It was a slow time and they finished in a crawl. There is a clear line of form between him and Run Wild Fred as in third that day was Vanillier beaten 18 lengths, Run Wild Fred had finished 10 lengths clear but was off level weights whereas Stattler was getting 8lbs from Vanillier. The two are clearly closely matched, but I'm still not convinced by Stattlers staying power, he was a weakening apparent non stayer in last years Albert Bartlett, and this is why my preference is for the more proven Run Wild Fred.
After them in the market we have Capodanno at 11/1 who has run some good races this year pushing Bob Olinger over two and a half miles. Just this weekend he went off second favourite for the Grade One won by Galopin Des Champs. He fell early into the race which is disappointing, but I would urge people not to back this horse here as he hasn't qualified and after a fall surely Cheltenham comes too soon to find a suitable qualifying race. Farouk Dalene is 12/1 and ran Stattler close, I don't think he is screaming out for this marathon trip and connections will probably just sent Run Wild Fred if any. Fury Road s 14/1 and has the same connections as Run Wild Fred and Farouk Dalene, I don't think he wants this trip either and would have to carry a penalty for his grade one win. He's more likely to go for the Brown Advisory. Threeunderthrufive has a good profile for the race having ran a lot of races his year and been super consistent, running five times winning four races including two at grade two level. The main reservation with him is the family feel Adrian Heskin is the key to the horse and he is ineligible to ride in the race and look set to send the horse to the Brown Advisory to maintain the partnership. I would like his chances if he were to run here so at 14/1 could be a nice NRNB play.
Vanillier is 14/1 and could get much closer to Stattler over this extra trip, he stays well and has previous good course form having won the Albert Bartlett, I wouldn't be surprised at all if he were to bounce back a bit and run a good race here. Ontheropes is 16/1 and could be a good play here, a second season novice he won his reappearance in the Munster National keeping on well. His next start he went off just 8/1 for the Ladbrokes trophy and looked well beaten but stayed on resolutely to finish distant fourth, disappointing perhaps but the form of that race has worked out well with a few winners in behind him. He then disappointed in fifth behind Vanillier, Run Wild Fred and Fury Road in that race over Christmas, perhaps highlighting that he needs this weaker race as opposed to the Brown Advisory. Most recently he ran in the ultra competitive Thyestes chase, I had written him off for this race half way round as he looked well beaten, but to his credit he kept on really well and finished a good fifth in the end. I think he could be crying out for marathon trips and could well up his game over this far, before a shot at one of the Irish or Aintree Nationals.
Some of the bigger prices are interesting, Pats Fancy for previous winning connections, I have already written about in my weekly blog and have backed at bigger prices. En Beton for Mullins hasn't qualified so again would urge caution if considering backing him. Fantastikas at 40/1 isn't without hope, nor is Corach Rambler at 33/1. The Bosses Oscar had this race mentioned as a possible target early in the season, but looks like a handicap plot to me, running just ok races without being given a hard time, perhaps the Ultima?
This field I expect to cut up massively so won't be advising any other bets today. I've backed a few on my Ante Post blog for this race, with varying results. Some of them I'm still confident in, but a few are already losing bets with the horses not entered.
Gars de Sceaux – National Hunt Chase 50/1 0.5pts each way (23/03/21)
Grand Paradis - National Hunt Chase 40/1 0.5pts each way (10/05/2021)
Southfield Harvest - National Hunt Chase 33/1 0.5pts each way (23/08/2021)
These early three selections have all not been entered, which is disappointing, but I still think the thought behind them was good.
Vanillier - National Hunt Chase - 10/1 1pt win (15/11/2022)
Pats Fancy - National Hunt Chase/Any Race- 100/1 0.25pts each way & 25/1 0.5pts each way (13/12/2021)
These two I'm more happy with, Vanillier has drifted out to 14/1 but I'd sill go in again and back at that price. Last year his best form was at Cheltenham and he'd not been quite as good elsewhere. I think the step up in trip is sure to suit and a bit better ground like last year he could come back to life. 14/1 is huge for him. Pats Fancy is now generally 16/1 but as short as 14/1 in places, so the 100/1 looks massive. I took 25/1 for any race in case connections opted for one of the handicaps, but connections have mentioned this race is the target.