The Grade-1 JN Wine Champion Chase (Down Royal 2.35, Saturday) is a chance to see some of the best 3-mile chasers in action, in a contest that has been won previously by the likes of the brilliant Beef Or Salmon, Kauto Star, and last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack.
The last 10 renewals have been shared with 5 Irish winners and 5 English winners, with Paul Nicholls responsible for 4 of the English winners, whilst Gordon Elliott has trained 2 of the last 3 winners. Meanwhile, Ruby Walsh has ridden 3 winners in the last decade.
7 runners are set to go to post for the 2016 JN Wine Champion Chase.
It will be interesting to see how the top Gigginstown owned horses fare now they’ve been removed from Willie Mullins, but Gordon Elliot is hardly a bad replacement. This 7-year-old could also still be improving, though he’s also already shown a high-level of form to make him competitive in finishing placed at last year’s Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown Festivals. Won on his last 2 seasonal debuts, and Barry Geraghty is an interesting jockey booking.
Race fitness is assured after 2 runs already this season, however his overall form suggests he lacks both the class and the stamina for this contest.
Grade-2 hurdle winner at the course, but has yet to prove he’s going to be a grade-1 chaser at the highest level. Stable in form, but has 15-20lb to find on ratings.
Looked impressive on his seasonal debut, but was the only one of the runners who truly stayed the trip that day, and was also getting weight from all his rivals. Race fit, and will like the conditions, but will probably need a few of the others to underperform to take this.
The dual King George winner has the best form in the book, but his only win last season was a sub-standard Ascot Chase on soft-ground. Also run well below his best on his last 3 seasonal reappearances, and looks vulnerable at the age of 10 to some of the young pretenders. Paul Nicholls has won 4 of the last 10 renewals though.
The Last Samuri
Not won on last 2 seasonal reappearances, but connections have to be commended for pitching their improving star into graded company. Hard to know what affect running in last year’s Grand National had, but no surprise if he put up a bold performance with his trainer amongst the winners.
Won on 3 of his 4 seasonal reappearances, though not in this class, and he’s another ex-Willie Mullins trained Gigginstown horse who is now in the hands of trainer Henry de Bromhead. The 7-year-old improved last season, and could make further giant strides this season. Goes especially well for Ruby Walsh.
2016 JN Wine Champion Chase Tip
I’m keen to take on the top-rated Silviniaco Conti, as he’s underperformed on his last 3 seasonal reappearances, and the one I’m happy to take him on with is Valseur Lido. Often the stable’s second string when with Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh rides him for the just the third time today having won a Grade-1 on him on the first occasion, and fallen at the last when looking the winner of the Irish Gold Cup on the other.
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