Sunday, 8 March 2009

Cheltenham Preview - RSA Chase

The RSA Chase, previously known as the Royal & Sun Alliance Chase, is run over 3 miles 110 yards, features nineteen fences and is open to novices aged five and older. The testing Cheltenham track coupled with the stamina sapping trip and fast pace makes this a tricky race for the novice chaser and sadly, many trainers will target festivals later in the year with their best staying novices. That said, the line up for the 2009 renewal is not exactly weak and we should enjoy a good race.

It is important to note that six year olds struggle in the race as they tend to be outstayed by the older, stronger horses and seven of the last ten winners have been aged seven. Just two six year olds have won the race in the last thirty years and no horse aged nine or older has won the race for sixteen years – age is a key trend in the RSA.

As with a lot of the Cheltenham Festival events, last time out form is very important. Just one horse in the last 22 renewals has won after finishing out of the top two in their previous race and that was Hanakham, who ran third behind two future Gold Cup winners.

Another fact to note is that nine out of the last ten winners had run at least three times over fences, which when coupled with the other trends, allows us to thin out the nineteen strong field significantly, leaving us with Jaunty Flight, Siegemaster, Massini’s Maguire, Horner Woods, Cooldine and Casey Jones.

Although Casey Jones won the Knight Frank Chase, the race hasn’t proven to be much of a trial for the RSA and besides which, he’s a little inconsistent and his jumping is suspect. Siegemaster was comfortably held in that race and doesn’t look to have progressed this season, so I feel quite confident in ruling out the pair.

Massini’s Maguire is yet to totally prove himself beyond two miles and five and a bad jump cost him his last race. I’m not looking to back a horse at Cheltenham that has issues with both jumping and stamina. Horner Woods is another with a question mark over stamina, having never run further than a mile and a half and doesn’t appear to jump all that well either. At a best price 66/1 (William Hill), the market speaks volumes.

Mares don’t have a great record in the race, with just one winner in at least 20 years and Jaunty Flight doesn’t look like being the next Brief Gale. Again, available at 100/1 (Sporting Bet) I’ll let the market do the talking for me on this one.

That just leaves the market leader then. The Willie Mullins trained Cooldine (top right) looked impressive in the Dr PJ Moriarty Chase, a trial that produced RSA winner Florida Pearl (left) in 1998, trained by one W P Mullins. Although the record of the Irish in the RSA is generally bad, Mullins has twice won this race in ten years and looks to have a great chance of making it three. Stamina will not be an issue here and the forecast soft ground will be welcome.

RSA Chase
Wednesday 11th March, 14:40
2 points win

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