The Racing Post Henry VIII Chase kicks off the Channel 4 coverage at Sandown on Saturday and represents a stern test for this year’s novice chasers. Many top quality horses, the likes of Al Ferof and Captain Conan, have won this race before going on to better things and it is always worth noting down the winner for the future. Here’s my selection for you all!
Hinterland (9/2 Coral) is arguably the most experienced chaser in the field having finished second to Captain Conan in this race last season. He won on his seasonal reappearance over course and distance, and Paul Nicholls quickly stated that this race would be his next target. His chasing record is extremely consistent as he has yet to finish out of the first two over fences. He ticks all the boxes, and should run well.
BALDER SUCCES (7/2 Betfred) really impressed me when he jumped faultlessly round Chepstow on his first outing over the larger obstacles, breaking the course record in doing so. Trainer Alan King was quick to defend his up and coming stable star when falling two out and looking the likely winner at Cheltenham, blaming the low sun. He won on his last start convincingly at Warwick; jumping another bold and clear round, with Baby Mix behind him. He showed no signs of the previous fall affecting his confidence, at a track where Alan King ran Voy Por Ustedes in a novice chase campaign that culminated in Arkle victory. With King's horses in top form, Balder Succes has a very strong chance of victory.
When Claret Cloak (12/1 Ladbrokes) won his bumper in Wincanton back in 2011, he was straight on my 'to follow' list. Despite his poor last season, his majestic stride and genuine nature caught my eye. His trainer Emma Lavelle is in good form, notching up more winners so far this season than she did for the entirety of last season. Claret Cloak was impressive when winning first time out at Towcester this season, and on his second outing was beaten by the other King raider Manyriverstocross at Exeter last month. A stumble over the last meant that there was only a nose in it. This horse has plenty of class and Emma Lavelle places her horses well, so for me this is another with a big chance.
Manyriverstocross (12/1 Betfred) kept on gamely when beating Claret Cloak at Exeter, continuing Alan King’s strong run of form. The yard’s second string for the race can’t be forgotten about on this form, and Dominic Elsworth takes this useful spare ride. The oldest horse in the field returned to the race course in February after almost two and a half years off, and it looks like any problems the horse may have had are a thing of the past.
The Nicky Henderson trained Grandouet (7/2 Coral) is an exciting prospect, but blundered and unseated his jockey on his first outing over fences last time out, when a length down behind Hinterland. His jumping is a real worry, and not even a small field helped him out. He's run in some eye catching races over hurdles in the past, most notably at Cheltenham's December meeting back in 2011, but that was a long time ago, and until I see him take to fences convincingly, I'm not tempted to sway his way.
I saw Taquin De Seuil (3/1 Ladbrokes) run at Ffos Las back in October and he walked all over the field. This was a very canny move from trainer Jonjo O'Neill, giving the horse his first race over the larger obstacles in a small less experienced field. He then went on to win at Cheltenham in the Open Meeting, beating Oscar Whisky, by putting in a gutsy performance when staying on under pressure. The ground dictated his entry, and AP decided to stay at Sandown instead of heading to Aintree, so this must be a big positive in itself. Add to that the fact that owner Martin Broughton decided to run this horse in the race, ahead of Dodging Bullets, this horse should run a good race.
Finally, we have De Faoithesdream (80/1 Ladbrokes) who will be having his second run of the season. The Evan Williams trained horse hadn't run for a year until finishing sixth at Cheltenham last month with some un-fluent jumping not helping his cause.
As this is such a competitive race, it is really difficult to choose between the first three. Claret Cloak oozes class and Taquin de Seuil has the potential to go far. All of the horses entered have the right attributes to win this race however, after watching his impeccable round of jumping before and after his fall at Cheltenham, I find it really hard to oppose BALDER SUCCES.
BALDER SUCCES (WIN) (7/2 Betfred)
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