Roalco De Farges – 1 point win – 11/2 general
11/2 is fair for what I think is the only horse in the field who doesn’t have any questions to answer. He won this race last year of 4lb lower, but actually carries 1lb less on his back and I don’t think the rating will stop him. He won’t mind if there is a bit of rain and the ground eases, and he will be fit and fully tuned up for this. Clearly he is a bit fragile/temperamental but this may be the best time to catch him. He is 10 but this is only his 19th chase start and Hobbs won this 3 times with the great Balthazar King as his years were advancing. Hobbs is 5/11, 6 places in this race, horses rated 134-140 have won 7 of last 8 runnings and horses that ran at Sandown LTO are 3/8, 5 places. 8/8 have been top 5 in market to date and 7/8 were running between 121-365 days.
He is the obvious choice in this and I have tried to justify backing something at a bigger price that may be more progressive but struggled to make an over convincing case for the rest. Champion Court has a big weight, his rating is up again, and has yet to be overly convincing after a break. He is a more exposed 10yo than RDF as well. Fox Appeal has stamina to prove over fences and has yet to place at the track in 3 runs. He is unexposed but has a bit to prove, including fitness and his jumping can be iffy. Kie has class and stamina questions. Theatrical Star is 0/15, 3 places above C3 to date and 0/6, 0 places at track, so a couple of questions there. Silver Man is unexposed but needs to step forward on what he has done to date. Likewise with Azure Fly – he is unexposed and needs to step up – 0/5, 0 places above C3 to date and 0/4, 0 places on very undulating tracks. Trainer only 1/97 at track as well. Whats Happening gets much further than this and may well need the run. I would like to think Brennan would be on if this were his day and it is strange that he is on Fergal’s horse, unless I have missed something. He is up 9lb after that last win and has his class to prove as well. Black Benny has stamina to prove and I am not sure how good his irish form is.
That leaves Audacious Plan, Big Casino and Perfect Candidate who look most interesting. AP is unexposed but is a similar price to RDF and he has a lot to prove. This is a big ask for a 6yo but he looks interesting. If he were double figure prices I would be more interested, but at 13/2 I would rather go with the proven horse on this occasion. With only 1 chase win to his name this will be some test, albeit a decent run looks on the cards and he could be one to keep onside. Big Casino is also unexposed and interesting but is another who has stamina to prove having had a couple of goes and his win LTO wasnt in the strongest of C2s. There is also lots of pace on here albeit he will be fit. Perfect Candidate is weak in the market which is a concern and he well may need the run. His form is at a lower level to date as well and he is another that needs to step up – albeit that is possible.
As always in these types of chases you are weighing up the proven form vs the more unexposed runners. Given that this race will be a true test, and given the horses form here and in this race, and the yard he comes from, RDF looks the most solid option to me. I know he will be fit, and I am guessing with the others who are making their reappearance. There is a lot of pace on paper in here and I expect Johnson will sit back and pick them all up turning for home. If he runs his race, and his profile suggests that can be a bit of an if, he won’t be far away here. Given the number of horses in here who could improve this season it could be a race to keep track of.
There is nothing else today, and no shortlist either. The Sprint at Donny has no really clear trends that I can see and I don’t want to go into that race ‘cold’ this time. I looked at the 3.05 Kelso but this is one to watch with a notepad for the future. There are a few unexposed ones in here. Straidnahanna shows up – the one I fancied last time in a race when he was withdrawn. He was 6s last night and is now 3s so I have missed that price. He has the most potential to be a class above these.
2.10 Chelt – Turn Over Sivola (9/1 or under)
2.35 Donc – Dungannon (16/1 or under)
3.00 Newb – Passover (16/1 or under)
3.10 Donc – Storm Force Ten (16/1 or under)
4.20 Donc – Gleaming Girl (14/1 or under) / Popeswood (16/1 or under)
4.45 Newb – Escrick / Maybe Tomorrow (both 14/1 or under)
4.55 Donc – Scrutineer (14/1 or under)
4.55 Donc – Theos Lolly – (16/1 or under)