The RSA chase is often one of the most brutal races at the Cheltenham Festival, as the best of the staying novice chasers do battle over 3 miles and ½ a furlong.
Usually run at championship pace, it’s a test that many of the runners won’t have previously experienced and there are 19 fences waiting to catch them out as Cheltenham’s undulations ask them to jump uphill and downhill.
Statistically, the main eye-catcher is that 7-year-olds have won the last 8 renewals, 9 of the last 10, and 13 of the last 15.
Willie Mullins has the best record of the current trainers having trained 3 winners, whilst Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson have both won it twice in the last 10 years. Meanwhile, Barry Geraghty has ridden three of the last nine winners and Ruby Walsh and Davy Russell have won two each.
Irish trained winners have won four of the last 6.
Below is our analysis and horse racing tips for the RSA:
Don Poli 4/1
Trained by Willie Mullins, the 6-year-old has won 5 of his 8 starts including his sole visit to Cheltenham where he won last year’s Martin Pipe Hurdle off a handicap mark of 143. Since then, with his attentions turned to chasing, he’s gone from strength, proving his stamina for this by winning twice over 3-miles. Obvious chance but is also entered in the 4-mile National Hunt Chase.
Kings Palace 11/2
Martin Pipe’s 7-year-old has won his last three starts, two at Cheltenham, over a similar distance to this race. However, it was a similar story last year over hurdles and he flopped in the Albert Bartlett when seemingly taken out of his rhythm by the strong pace and big-field. Might have just had an off day, but wouldn’t be one for my money.
Coneygree 7/1 (5/1 general)
Trainer Mark Bradstock might send his potentially star 8-year-old to the Gold Cup where he might well surprise a few people. However, if he does take his chance in this he might well go off favourite. Won one of his two Cheltenham hurdle starts impressively but was injured in the other when third behind At Fishers Cross.
The Young Master 10/1
Neil Mullholland’s 6-year-old has improved out of all recognition this season and the form of his last run has been franked by Houblon Des Obeaux and Le Reve who finished second and third. Would have to improve again but is proven over the course and distance – be it at a much lower level.
Southfield Theatre 12/1
Paul Nicholls’ 7-year-old beat Melodic recently and has plenty of placed form at Cheltenham over hurdles. Should take his chance, and could be the one to benefit if the principals run elsewhere.
Valseur Lido 14/1
Another Willie Mullins 6-year-old who has jumped and travelled well in his chases this season, winning two of his three starts, but just losing out to Apache Stronghold last time in a 2½ mile Grade 1. Yet to run over 3-miles, but it could be the making of him. Did disappoint at last year’s festival though.
Sausalito Sunrise 25/1
Phillip Hobb’s 7-year-old has seen the rear-end of King’s Palace twice this season, but may well enjoy a quicker run race. Does look a little one-paced though and a place is possibly the best he could manage.
I could see Coneygree going off as low as 5/2 for this if allowed to take his chance, but connections might think the Gold Cup is the way to go with an in-form 8-year-old as they might never get another chance with him in this sort of form. Don Poli also looks to have an obvious chance having proven himself at a previous Festival. However, the horse that has the potential to shorten significantly in the market looks to be Valseur Lido – and he’s worth risking a point on at this stage – despite not being a 7-year-old. We’ll also pop 7-year-old Southfield Theatre in as he may also shorten in price if the principals run elsewhere.
Valseur Lido 1 point @ 14/1 (Stan James)
Southfield Theatre 1 point 12/1 (general)