Black Hercules has won 6 of his races, but was odds-on for each of those wins. He’s also failed at the last two Cheltenham Festivals when sent off at 13/2 for the Bumper in 2014, and at 5/2 for the 2015 Albert Bartlett – which makes him look worth taking-on in the National Hunt Chase, which is run over 4-miles on the Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival.
Here’s our analysis of some of some of his rivals – and our tip with which to take Black Hercules on.
Southfield Royale 11/1
He’s always shaped like a thorough stayer, including when beating subsequent Skybet Chase runner-up Coologue by 13-lengths over 3-miles at Doncaster, and again when splitting Tea For Two and Native River at Kempton over Christmas. Rated around 150 and could improve again for the longer trip.
Rule The World 12/1
Yet to win any of his 12 chase starts, but has agonisingly finished second in 7 them, including in the Irish Grand National when tackling the longest trip he’s encountered. He’s also got some excellent Cheltenham Festival form having finished second to The New One in the Neptune Hurdle, and sixth behind More Of That in the World Hurdle.
Native River 14/1
Looked a stayer of enormous potential on his first two chase starts and, though he’s disappointed on his last two starts, he has been staying on with purpose at the finish after getting outpaced. Doesn’t look to have the pace to win an RSA, and this would look an obvious target.
Definitely Red 20/1
Worth a mention as he finished second to Black Hercules at Warwick recently, but was subsequently beaten further by Blaklion at Wetherby, but finished in front of Native River. Has got some decent course form, such as when finished sixth in a Festival Bumper, and being a novice hurdle winner, but may just lack a touch of class.
Trainer Jonjo O’Neill has won this race once in the last decade, but 5 times overall, and this improving sort could really appreciate 4-miles. However, his trainer also likes winning the Uttoxeter National, and there’s a chance he may run there instead.
Stayed-on to some effect when powering past, admittedly dubious stayer, Un Temps Pour Tout at Cheltenham in November, and his stable was under a cloud when beaten on his return in December. Would be interesting if trainer Paul Nicholls gets his horses in top-for in the run-up to the event.
The most interesting runner looks to be Rule The World, as he’s already won well over 29-furlongs, has lots of chasing experience including in big-fields, and has run two fine races at previous Cheltenham Festivals.
Rule The World @ 12/1 (Coral)