It’s a very interesting renewal, and it looks wide open. Looking back to the Arkle on Tuesday you could perhaps draw a conclusion that the Irish novices are perhaps a little bit better than the English, considering Put The Kettle On and Fakir D’oudairies were so far clear of the first English horse home.
I think there’s doubts about an awful lot of runners in this Marsh Chase, and I think it’s worth forgiving Samcro. He hasn’t fulfilled the potential he showed as a novice hurdler, but I think he was running really well in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse in early December before he fell, and was then second to Faugheen on Boxing Day.
He’s had a wind op, and I can see him coming back to top form, and I think if he does come out anywhere near his best he could end off going at 5/1 and making the bookies pay.
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Relegate I think is very obvious, and she’s crept in at the bottom of the weights. She’s a Champion Bumper winner from two years ago. Hurdling didn’t really work out for her as a novice, where she jumped poorly.
Despite that she did managed to come fifth in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown despite jumping appallingly, and that finish was a testament to how much ability she has.
She’s switched to Colm Murphy’s yard, and after being off the track for a year reappeared at a qualifier in Punchestown and jumped much better and caught the eye. If she can get back to her Bumper form I think she’ll have a right chance.
One that will be a bit of a price is Dream Berry. He ran OK in the Martin Pipe a few years ago and was good at Aintree and Punchestown back in 2017. Again he was off the track for a year before qualifying at Sandown and was a very eye-catching second on awful ground. He’s around the 16-20/1 mark, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go close.
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A Plus Tard tops the market and a lot of that is based off what he did last year off a mark of 144 in the Novice Handicap where he was very impressive. At the same time, he’s struggled to keep up that form consistently with just win out of three since.
I think the one with the best form in the race is Min, but the one I’ve been on about all winter is RidersontheStorm for Nigel Twiston-Davies. The switch of stables has really perked him up.
He’s still only seven, it’s not like he’s an old horse. He’s always had ability, he just seems to be channeling it better now. He was very impressive when he won last time out at Ascot and beat On The Blind Side and Cepage before that.
I think he looks a fair each/way bet here. I think Frodon will kick on and Min will be handy. Saint Calvados can be handy as can Aso. But for me, Ridersonthestorm is my best bet of the day.
I think the more pace the better. He’s travelled and jumped really well this season and I’m still excited by him.
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Simply The Betts was an impressive winner at Cheltenham Trials Day beating Imperial Aura. He of course impressed in winning the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase on Tuesday. Add to that the third on that Trials Day, On The Slopes, has won up at Kempton since and it makes for an impressive form guide.
He’s gone up nine pounds but I think if the handicapper had his way he’d have thrown another five or six onto him. He’s a very short price in an open handicap, but it’s difficult to see what would beat him.
One I’d give as squeak too each/way is Deyrann De Carjac for Alan King. He’s been behind Champ this season, shaped OK at Cheltenham in the Dipper when finishing third and beaten two-lengths by Midnight Shadow. If the ground dries out it’ll really suit him. He could be a nice punt each/way at around 12-14/1.
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Minella Melody sets the standard here, but Culreevy brings probably the best form to the table having won a Grade 1 against the geldings at Punchestown last year. Were she to repeat that form I think she’d be difficult to beat.
The one I like, and I’m hoping she’ll improve, is Dolcita. She was about two-and-a-half lengths behind Minella Melody and Culreevy was about a length ahead of her as well on her last run at Fairyhouse at the end of January.
But she jumped very poorly that day and did an awful lot wrong. It’s testament to how much ability she has that she was able to stay on close despite that. With only two hurdles on the last seven furlongs on the new track, that’ll really suit here. As will the stiff finish. I just think the race will be run to suit her. If she can jump adequately I think she’s got a right each/way chance.
There’s been plenty of money for Nicky Henderson’s Champagne Platinum. This is a bit of a gamble from his owners though as he hasn’t done much over fences. He caught the eye a little at Sandown in his last outing in early February but he was still beaten 18 lengths.
The one I like is Deise Aba for Philip Hobbs. You want to go for the good jockeys, and to be fair the Irish have some of the best in JJ Codd, Derek O’Connor and Patrick Mullins. But Will Biddick is probably the best of the English by a way and he rides Deise Aba here. He was a very impressive winner of a Maiden Hurdle at Chepstow back in March last year.
He kind of went off the rails since but went up to Catterick earlier in the season and that seemed to do wonders for his confidence after jumping well and winning nicely.
He then went to Sandown which can be a very tricky test for a Novice and won very impressively and actually jumped really well.
He made one mistake at the second-last but I wasn’t that major and I think off a mark of 142 he’s definitely open to more progress and with the extra place on offer I can see him going well.