The 2016 Lexus Chase (Leopardstown 3.00, Wednesday) looks the race of the National Hunt season so far, and the winner can cement his name amongst some of the stars of National Hunt Racing who have won previously renewals, including Bobs Worth, Tidal Bay, Denman, Beef Or Salmon, Best Mate, Dorans Pride and Imperial Call.
14-runners are set to go to post, so let’s take a look at their chances.
Raised 20lb for a surprise victory in the Fortria Chase last-time, but still has around 20lb to find with the principles, and yet to prove he stays 3-miles.
Entitled to win this on the form of runner-up finishes in the Cheltenham Gold Cup or Punchestown Gold Cup, and has won both course starts. Top-rated by 1lb, and stable in fantastic from so far at this meeting. Willie Mullins also won his first Lexus Chase last year.
Last year’s winner has lots of decent form, and is likely to strip much fitter than he did on seasonal debut. However, has over 9-lengths to find with Djakadam on last year’s Gold Cup form, and would ideally prefer further or much softer ground.
Finished third in the 2016 Irish Hennessey Gold Cup but would have been beaten around 2-lengths by Valseur Lido if that one hadn’t fallen at the last, and no reason why he should finish any closer.
Only fifth in the 2016 Irish Hennessey Gold Cup, but was beaten by Arctic Skipper earlier in the season, and it’s difficult to see him stepping-up to the required level.
The 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner made a pleasing comeback after 20-months off when second to Champagne Fever, however he’s never shown his best form at Leopardstown in the past.
More Of That
The 2014 World Hurdle winner still has time to make up into a top-class chaser, but he’s hard to recommend having performed below expectations on his last three starts.
Unbeaten at Leopardstown in 3 starts, but he’s yet to beat a real top-class horse. Was also race-fit when chasing home Djakadam last-time, and the gap between them may be widened over this 3-mile trip.
Road To Riches
2014 Lexus Winner was sent off favourite for the 2016 Irish Hennessey Gold Cup, but the ground was softer than he liked. However, has ground to make up with both Valseur Lido and Djakadam on their latest meetings, and yet to hit top-form so far this season. Could hit the frame though, and could be the each-way value.
Decent type, but no evidence that he stays 3-miles, especially in this company.
Taquin De Seuil
Won a couple of decent handicaps in 2016, but has tended to fall-short in grade-1 company previously.
Improving type for whom this should be a perfect test after looking likely winner of 2016 Irish Hennessey Gold Cup when falling at the last. However, has always looked to go best for Ruby Walsh, and he’s always though Djakadam was the better horse, even when the two were stablemates.
Finished behind plenty of these in his career so far, and run two of his poorest races at Leopardstown.
Prone to jumping errors, but his record over 3-miles is decent. May fall short against the two principals though.
2016 Lexus Chase Summary
Djakadam is rated 1lb higher than Valseur Lido, who in turn is rated 8lb than the next best, and it should be close between the two if they’re both at their best. However, it’s Djakadam who has Ruby Walsh in the saddle, and that could be the deciding factor.
TIP: Djakadam to win @ 9/4 Bet365, Boylesports, Coral