The RSA and Coral Cup will have plenty of interest on Wednesday, but
its the Queen Mother Champion Chase
which balances the whole of day two. Sprinter Sacre bids to
continue his dominance..
AUTHOR: MIKE D
Four miles in Soft
ground and carrying 11st 6lb is the prospect facing the 16 Novice
Chasers and their Amateur Riders for the John Oaksey National
Hunt Challenge Cup (1-30) on Wednesday.
A quick look through the stats tells us that the results favour 7 &
8yo’s. Willie Mullins trains 8yo Back in Focus for owners Andrea and
Graham Wylie and his form gives him a real chance. Another plus is
that he prefers soft and heavy ground. On the down side, Irish
raiders don’t usually do well in this race (only 3 line up tomorrow)
but 150 rated, BACK IN FOCUS does look to have an opportunity
to defy the statistics. There’s been quite a buzz in the market for
8yo Rival D’Estruval, who will certainly get the trip and a
win would give a huge boost to the small Northumberland yard of
Pauline Robson. Better value may be found with another 8yo, Paul
Nicholls’s Hawke’s Point, who looks an ideal e/w pick.
Willie Mullins also looks highly likely to hoover up the prize in
the Neptune Novices Hurdle (2-05pm). His PONT ALEXANDRE
is a huge star in the making despite this being a high class field.
Jonjo O’Neill Taquin de Seuil and the New One look next best.
The RSA Chase (2-40pm) presents Willie Mullins and the Wylies
with another excellent chance of a prize with Boston Bob, who
was pipped in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle here last year and has put
in two gutsy winning performances over fences since. However Ruby
Walsh has opted to ride Paul Nicholls 5yo youngster Unioniste,
who was successful in France and since won a valuable h/cap chase
over c/d in November last year. However, we don’t think this is an
open and shut case and fancy that Venetia Williams has an
opportunity for 148 rated HOUBLON DES OBEAUX to return to
winning ways. He’s got a few miles on the clock with 24 runs, but
holds his form very well and an e/w wager could be rewarded.
It will take a lot to lower the colours of Nicky Henderson’s
SPRINTER SACRE in the Queen Mother Champion Chase (3-20pm).
He’s hardly put a foot wrong, winning 11 of his 13 races to date,
and beaten a lot of very good horses on the way, including most of
tomorrow’s opposition. As yet, the young pretender hasn’t
encountered 11yo Sizing Europe, who won this race in 2011 and has
amassed over £1,000,000 in prize money in a glittering career. His
connections are bullish about his prospects but we can’t see past
The Coral Cup (4-00pm) has a wide open look about it,
especially with 28 runners but is usually won by something near the
top of the betting. Coming into that category is the favourite,
Charlie Longsdon’s Pendra, which Tony McCoy rides for owner
JP McManus and obviously the subject of a gamble. We wonder whether
Tony would like to have stayed with Mr Watson, a £210,000
purchase, who he has ridden to success for Jonjo O’Neill. Noel
Fehily is perfectly suitable substitute in the saddle and we suggest
he may have a good day out with this one but in truth anything could
win this cavalry charge.
The Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle (4-40pm) for 4yo’s is another
well-contested race, and the winner is often goes off at
double-figure odds. We do like the look of the favourite Saphir
du Rheu who seems to be learning fast and will have the
considerable assistance of Ruby Walsh in the saddle. John Ferguson
has many good novices to choose from and Bordoni must be
close to the top of the heap as stable jockey Dennis O’Regan rides
Wednesday closes with the Weatherby’s Champion Bumper (5-15pm)
and proves to be a fascinating contest. Champion Flat jockey
Richard Hughes has taken out a special licence in order to ride
likely favourite, Sgt Reckless for Mick Channon, while Aidan O’Brien
provides Shield for son Joseph to ride. It’s a really devilish one
to call, but when in doubt in a Festival Bumper it pays to side with
the maestro Willie Mullins who has three runners remaining in this.
The obvious pick of the three is shortest in the betting, namely
UNION DUES, ridden by Willie’s son
Patrick and who won this race last year on Tuesday’s hero Champagne
Fever. We will also take pot luck and assume that Shield will
be good enough to at least make the places for the O’Brien clan.
BEST BETS OF THE DAY
Nap of the Day is SPRINTER SACRE and the outsider suggestion
is Houblon Des Obeau
See how our
analysis got on on Tuesday
Get a FREE £50 bet with Ladbrokes
Ownership and Syndicate News
View all our horses to own for