Mad March musings on the RSA 3m novice chase. Tuesday February 7th 4pm
Every year the 3m Grade 1 novice chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, now the Kauto Star formerly the Feltham, really bothers me. It shouldn’t but it does and this season was at it again. Might Bite should have won but Daryl Jacob rode him into the last and he hit it half way up and went A over T! His time would have been quicker than Thistlecracks in the King George and despite not completing the course he became second favourite for the RSA at the Cheltenham Festival! I have real issues with the horse.
Let’s start with that time at Kempton. The novices went a solid gallop from pillar to post and the race fell apart, the seniors dawdled the first lap and until Thistlecrack took it up going past the post for the final circuit there was no pace in the race. Don’t like the comparison.
Might Bite was an OR148 hurdler at best and I’ve seen nothing in the book to suggest he will be any higher over fences, there’s a bit of Josses Hill about him.
He’s a Scorpion, so what’s between his ears is always going to be questionable! Came through bumpers, no PtP experience, and had his novice chasing career put on hold for a year after looking all at sea when trying Cheltenham’s fences as a 6yo. His jumping is often BIG, and I mean clear a bus big, and he can spend time in the air and he has a streak of immaturity with a loss of concentration as seen at the second last at Doncaster and obviously the last at Kempton. He’s an immature 8yo who has never been to the Festival and I could see him boiling over before the race starts.
The horse has talent for sure, he’s built for chasing and the day he puts it all together he will be very good but I just don’t think he’s street wise nor mature enough for a slog like the RSA.
Bellshill, owned by Graham Wylie and trained by Willie Mullins, is clear favourite for the RSA and I also have some serious doubts about him as well. Mainly I don’t think he acts at Cheltenham. Bellshill has had 14 runs under rules, 11 times he has finished in the first two and he was third in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown. The other two? Both at Cheltenham, he was 10th of 23 in the Bumper in 2015 behind Moon Racer when a 14/1 shot ridden by Ruby Walsh and 13th of 14 behind Altior in last years red hot Supreme when 11/1 and ridden by Paul Townend whilst clearly in the wrong race! My second worry is I feel he is a better horse on winter ground and the softer the ground the less it would be a concern but even on the Wednesday I could see it being Good to Soft and he may get taken out of his comfort zone on a course he doesn’t act on.
Without the two above in the RSA it is currently 10/1 bar and surely there is some value to be had here!
This division looks poor in the UK and eyes must turn to the Emerald Isle! Alpha Des Obeaux is the class act entered. Third in two Grade 1 three mile hurdles at the end of last season he was beaten fair and square by Coney Island and Anibale Fly over 2m4f a trip too short for him in the Grade 1 Drinmore and last time he was pulled up because he bled. Sorry I just can’t back a bleeder especially in a race as demanding as the RSA!
Anibale Fly was favourite and pulled up in Might Bite’s race at Kempton with the ground being given as the sole reason. Despite redeeming himself in a Grade 3 three miler at Naas it’s not going to be soft enough at Cheltenham. Coney Island was beaten by Our Duke in the Grade 1 Lawlors Hotel 3m novice chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and Our Duke hasn’t even been entered at Cheltenham! Edward Harty, trainer of Coney Island said on January 9th “Everything is fine and he came out of the race at Christmas well. We’ve not really made a plan for him yet. There’s the race in Leopardstown (Flogas Novice Chase, February 12), the Cheltenham races and then Fairyhouse and Punchestown. You can’t do them all, so we’ll sit down and make a plan in a week or so. He’s speed enough for two and a half miles and you could go three miles with him again.” There has been money for Coney Island for both the RSA and JLT in the last 48 hours but with owner JP McManus moving Buveur D’Air from the JLT to the Champion Hurdle, Coney island could easily step up to be his number one contender in the JLT.
I think the value in the RSA lies with the horse that was third in the Leopardstown Grade 1 at Christmas, DISKO. The talented grey has long been the apple of experienced trainer Noel Meade’s eye. That last run was really the first time that Disko had shown over obstacles that he could deliver the goods at Grade 1 level, ever since he was second to the year older Bellshill in the Punchestown Champion Bumper. Disko wears a hood, more to help him concentrate than because he’s a rogue but this strapping grey son of Martaline looks ready to show his well-being in the Flogas (J.P.Moriarty) at Leopardstown over 2m 5f this Sunday. A first three, keeping on finish will be fine to set him up for the RSA. I am heartened by what his trainer recently told Dave Kenna of the Irish Field, “He bounced back with a real good run at Christmas after that bad run at Punchestown. He was only beaten a length and he was running them down again at the line. I think he’ll run again at Leopardstown in the Moriarty and if that goes alright, he’ll go for the RSA or the JLT. He never got a clear run over hurdles but he has been good this year. He jumped great at Christmas time and, while he looked a sharp horse last year, I always felt that that he’d appreciate a trip.”
So now is the time to get involved. He is 20/1 with BetFred, Coral and Ladbrokes.
We will look to go each way on the day when we may get ¼ the odds, four places.