Ante-post preview of the Topham Chase at Aintree on the 4th of April with free betting tips and advice
The Crabbie's Topham Chase has been a feature of the Grand National meeting at Aintree for over 60 years. Run over just shy of 2m6f, it is an opportunity for connections of horses unlikely to stay the full Grand National distance a day in the spotlight. Here are my thoughts and best bets in what is consistently a tricky race to find the winner.
The race favours lightweights with nine of the last eleven winners carrying 10-7 or less while seven of the last ten winners have been priced at 14/1 and upwards in the betting. Peter Bowen's name won't be remembered by the Aintree faithful in the same revered way that Ginger McCain's is, but his runner – Always Waining winning three consecutive renewals of this race is a phenomenal testament to his talents and any raiders from Haverfordwest deserve careful consideration.
The fences come up thick and fast on the National course so it's imperative to get into an early rhythm and put in a solid jumping performance. The contest is always a difficult betting proposition with young improving chasers and old stagers in the twilight of their careers both capable of winning with a five year-old and an eleven year-old both winning within the last six renewals.
He might not fit the weight stats but Double Ross (14/1 William Hill) has shown massive improvement this season, rising rapidly through the handicap ranks before a gallant 3rd in a Grade 1 at the Cheltenham Festival. He has held his form well considering the number of races he has and it would be a surprise if a mark of 152 is the ceiling of this horses’ ability. Despite a tendency to clout one early on in his races, he is versatile in terms of ground and is an adaptable sort with a high cruising speed.
Lost Legend (20/1 Coral) won a very competitive race at Kempton on his most recent start in the manner of a much improved horse. Lightly raced over fences, this seven year-old represents a shrewd yard who will be hoping for the ground to continue to dry to boost their runner’s chances. He has two ways of running which is something of a concern and he would also need to take another step forward. However, since his his recent effort was a career best, he enters the race in great form and is of obvious interest.
Dunowen Point (25/1 bet365) has been the subject of nibbles in the market this week at big prices. He was an excellent fourth in this race last season off an 8lb higher mark, and a repeat effort would see him perform very well in this year’s renewal. He kicked off this season over C&D when giving a bold sighting out in front before lack of fitness told as he faded from the Melling Road. Two subsequent runs wouldn’t have inspired any confidence in his chances but a return to these fences could be the catalyst needed to spark him back into life.
KIAN’S DELIGHT (33/1 BetVictor) represents the aforementioned Peter Bowen yard so deserves considerable respect. He comes here off the back of a long absence having not been seen since failing to see out the stiff 3m at Cheltenham in October. Previously, he had run with credit in a pair of competitive Listed handicaps at Newton Abbot and Market Rasen and finds his handicap mark slightly lowered here. He kept good company in handicap hurdles last season as well and despite having no great record fresh, one can't help but think that the yard may well have had this race red ringed in the calendar for quite some time.
KAUTO STONE (50/1 William Hill) came to this country weighed down by the reputation of his half brother Kauto Star and unfortunately has very much failed to deliver on his early promise winning a Grade 2 at Down Royal and running a gallant second to Sizing Europe in the Tingle Creek at Sandown. Twelve of his fourteen runs since joining the Paul Nicholls yard have been in Grade 1 fields (the other pair in Grade 2 contests) so naturally this looks an easier assignment. He has looked regressive this season and connections have adopted various pieces of headgear and brutal front running tactics, both to no avail. These fences will often rekindle horses (Chance Du Roy the most recent example when winning the Beecher Chase in November) and if that is the case he may think he is running loose off a mark of just 145 here having been rated as high as 162 when he first hit these shores.
It is always a tricky race to pick the winner of with plenty of luck in running needed as well as a canny training performance to ensure that the horse isn't over the top for the season. Given the size of the field we will take a couple at decent prices each-way. Peter Bowen has such a good record in this race that whatever he saddles must be respected. KIAN’S DELIGHT is young and improving, is still at the right end of the weights and may just have been laid out for the race. KAUTO STONE is also worth giving one more chance to. Laying close to the pace can be a massive advantage here, getting a good sighter of the fences as well as keeping out of trouble. He finds himself in here off a very workable mark and this different test may just bring out the best in him.
KIAN’S DELIGHT (E/W) (33/1 BetVictor)
KAUTO STONE (E/W) (50/1 William Hill)
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