The RSA Chase is one of the highlights of the Wednesday of the Cheltenham Festival, and the best 3-mile novice chasers around have to jump 19 fences around 3-miles 110-yards on the Old Course. Since 1999, four winners have gone on to win the next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup: Looks Like Trouble (1999), Denman (2007), Bobs Worth (2012) and Lord Windermere (2013).
Barry Geraghty is the only jockey to have ridden two winners in the last 10 years, whilst Willie Mullins is the only trainer to have trained two winners. The most interesting statistic though is that Mullins’s 2015 winner Don Poli (age 6) was the only horse in the last decade not to be aged 7.
Here are some of the more interesting runners:
Alpha Des Obeaux 7/1
Trainer Mouse Morris knows how to ready a good one for the Cheltenham Festival, and this one was good enough to beat all bar Thistlecrack in last season’s World Hurdle. His chasing career didn’t start too well as he finished last, but he’s won his next two starts, and should relish the likely good ground which usually accompanies the Cheltenham Festival, by which time he’ll be 7.
10/1 would be the steal of the century if he turns-up, and there’s speculation that he might after stablemate Cue Card showed he was as good as ever by winning the Betfair Chase. However, they have different owners and, as Thistlecrack will be 9 come March, his owners are keen to go for the Gold Cup (only 4/1 for that race) rather than this likely easier option.
Different Gravey 14/1
Nicky Henderson’s likeable sort threw his hat into the ring with a convincing win on his novice chase debut, but both of his best runs have come at Ascot. Meanwhile, he didn’t jump well over hurdles on his only run at Cheltenham, but is another 7-year-old.
One Track Mind 16/1
Could make his debut over fences at Newbury on Friday, and the form of his win in the Punchestown Champion Stayers Hurdle makes him very interesting. He had subsequent Royal Ascot winner Jennie’s jewel and Alpha Des Obeaux behind, and may well have held Shaneshill (fell at the last), who is my ante-post fancy for this season’s World Hurdle. Another who’ll be 7 come the big day.
O O Seven 25/1
Had every right to win on his chasing debut, and won in great style over a shorter trip, Stamina isn’t guaranteed, but Nicky Henderson seems to think he’s a 3-miler. Hurdles form not as good as some of the others, but always looked a chaser in the making, and he’ll also be 7 come March.
Aux Ptits Soins 25/1
Another who’ll be 7 come March, but this one didn’t overly impress when second on his chasing debut. Only had one run in 18-months prior to that though, and will surely be sharper next time. Paul Nicholls has made a habit of winning handicaps at the festival recently though, and worth remembering this one has already won the Coral Cup Handicap over hurdles.
Cole Harden 25/1
The 2015 World Hurdle winner will be 8 come March, but is relatively lightly-raced. However, he finished a long way behind Alpha Des Obeaux in last year’s World Hurdle.
Prince Of Scars 33/1
Yes, another who’ll be 7, and it was no big surprise that he was beaten over 2½ miles on his chasing debut as he won 3-times over 3-miles as a hurdler. Built like a top-class chaser though but, as his owners also have Alphas Des Obeaux amongst others, there’s a chance that the 4-mile National Hunt Chase could be on his agenda (for which he’s only 16/1).
2017 RSA Chase Ante-Post Tip
Alpha Des Obeaux has an obvious chance, but has already been found in the market after a couple of easy wins. However, One Track Mind beat him 10-lengths at Punchestown in April, and his trainer Warren Greatrex could easily have been forgiven for keeping him over hurdles this season as the Stayer’s Hurdle Division doesn’t look that strong. Greatrex thinks he’s going to be a much better chaser though and, as he may unleash him at Newbury on Friday, this could be the time to back him each way at 16/1.
One Track Mind @ 16/1 (each way)