Cheltenham 2014 The RSA Chase
A 14/1big priced EW fancy.
Ten of the last 15 winners of this gruelling Novice Chase had run 4 or more times and experience over fences is vital in such a tactical race.
Likely favourite Ballycasey has contested only two chases and if he was to win this year it would make him the first horse to win with less than three chase runs since Florida Pearl won twenty one years ago. In his only significant chase, the JP Moriarty, only two of the three runner finished, He is trained by Willie Mullins and you can see why favourites have such a poor record in this race. Don Cossack and Carlingford Lough are the other two horses who contested the JP Moriarty with Balleycasey. Don Cossack has beaten Carlingford Lough in his last two races, but the JP moriarty was a tactical race (38 secs slower than standard) and it would come as no surprise to see the form of that race turned on its head by any one of the three runners. At Almost three times the price of Ballycasey, Don Cossack looks the better value to me.
With so little form to go on the perceived good thing often flatters to deceive; Long Run, Punchestown and Dynaste all came into this race rated 161, but failed to win, and another Pipe runner Grand Crus rated only 2lb inferior. However you do usually need to have been a decent hurdler to win this race; Bobs Worth, Denman, Cooldine & Weapon's Amnesty were all above average hurdlers and the last 7 winners were rated at least 134 as hurdlers.
The other reason the market leaders have fared so badly in the RSA is the poor record of the false favourites coming from the World Hurdle. Smad Place, who has finished 3rd in the last two World Hurdles will need to be a statbuster in that respect; Punchestowns, Time For Rupert and Grands Crus were all second in the World Hurdle, yet couldn’t even make the frame in the RSA, despite being short-priced favourites.
With Champagne Fever looking like he will take in the Arkle, rather than this race Smad Place who has been placed in the last two World hurdles is likely to go off as 2nd favourite and as we have seen such runners have struggled in this race. Furthermore, all but 3 of the last 21 winners were coming off the back of a sole season as a Novice hurdler and only Lord Noelie in the past 22 years spent two seasons over hurdles. (Although he only made his debut over hurdles in mid April);
Morning Assembly (around 7/1) was travelling well entering the straight in the Topaz, but didn’t find much at the business end and there must be a big doubt that he will make it up the hill in better fashion than his rivals.
The form of the Grade 2 Reynoldstown in February looks rock solid. The race also has a good recent history in producing RSA Chase winners, with Albertas Run (2008) and Bobs Worth both going on to victory, also Burton Port went on to finish second a month later.
Many Clouds was favourite that day with the form of his previous race having worked out really well, with the two opponents he beat in his previous race having both come out and won Grade 2 races. However, he was beaten 2 ½ lengths by impressive winners O’Faolains Lad, who had disappointed in his previous race. However, the trainer’s comments afterwards were revealing: “He was wrong at Haydock and scoped desperately after the race at a time when we had something go through the yard. Because of that he should come on an awful lot for that run and hopefully he can now go straight to the RSA.” The runner who finished 3rd and 6 lengths behind the winner that day was Third Intention, who has solid form this season in Grade 1 Novice Chases, the rest of the field were beaten by a distance. The form of the race looks rock solid.
Three of the last four renewals of this race have gone off at a big price and O’Faolain’s Lad looks like a cracking EW bet to me. Expect him to come on again from his last race and his trainer won a top novice race here with At Fishers Cross last year. O’Faolains Lad looked to have stamina to spare in the Reynoldstown and if there is still improvement to come, he should go close in the big one on Wednesday.
O’Foalain’s Lad EW Widely available 14/1 NRNB
(Also consider a saver on Many Clouds EW at 16/1 NRNB with Ladbrokes)
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