Ante-post preview of the RSA Novices’ Chase and free bets for this Cheltenham Festival 2014 staying novice chasing contest!
The RSA is one of the most exciting races of the Cheltenham Festival. This 3m Novice Chase has seen the likes of Denman and Bobs Worth pick up this prize before going on to claim Gold Cup glory. Here are my ante-post thoughts and selections.
Rather unsurprisingly; Willie Mullins has a strong hand with numerous potential runners for the RSA. Even less surprising is that one of his string is the current market favourite. Ballycasey (5/1 Betfred) was extremely impressive on his debut over the larger obstacles looking like a true chasing type. Despite the manner in which he won, that victory came over 17f at Navan and I have my doubts regarding this longer trip. Although he has 3m form over hurdles, until he shows his class and stamina over fences I cant’ be tempted to back him blind.
SMAD PLACE (7/1 bet365) has finished third in the last two renewals of the World Hurdle and since switching to fences, this Alan King trained horse, has looked impressive. Jumping well on debut at Huntington, he was well clear of the field before unseating jockey Robert Thornton at the last fence. He made up for that mistake next time out when easily winning at Exeter. What appeals most about this horse is his mix of stamina and tactical speed. Placing twice in the World Hurdle behind Big Bucks in 2012, and then Solwhit and Celestial Halo in 2013, proves that the horse has class and providing he puts in a solid round of jumping, he should relish the challenge of the RSA.
Both Carlingford Lough (11/1 William Hill) and Morning Assembly (8/1 Betfred) should have good chances. The former won the Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown, where he was given a sensational ride by champion jockey AP McCoy to see off short priced favourite Morning Assembly. Despite this result, I do think Morning Assembly would reverse the form if they were to meet again. Ruby Walsh believed that as the horse is only 6 years-old he was intimidated by the wind at Leopardstown. It seems his next race will be the RSA Chase and Fahy is keen to improve his jumping before that at home. This is a slight negative as I would be keen to see this horse have another outing over fences in a competitive contest to make sure his jumping has sound. Without this, I fancy other horses to get the better of Morning Assembly, and Carlingford Lough to also fall short.
In terms of the remainder, an outside chance could be given to BLACK THUNDER (25/1 BetVictor) at a big double-figure price. Although he was beaten last time by Donald McCain’s Corrin Wood (9/1 bet365), his chances were pretty much over after an uncharacteristically poor jump at the second last. This Paul Nicholls trained horse stayed on and did little wrong. Although he failed to quicken as well as Corrin Wood, I feel that the stiff Cheltenham track will suit this horse far better and at a price he is an interesting runner.
As with the majority of Festival races, Willie Mullins has a wealth of riches. However, on this occassion I would be happy to take on the Irish master trainer with the Alan King trained – SMAD PLACE. An impressive hurdler who seems to have taken well to fences, he looks a solid bet at the prices.
CHAMPAGNE FEVER (WIN) (7/1 bet365)
BLACK THUNDER (E/W) (25/1 BetVictor)
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