What happened in 2013?
A dramatic race of changing fortunes that was landed by the Jim Culloty-trained Lord Windermere. Boston Bob led the field coming down to the final fence but took a crashing fall, leaving fellow Irish raiders Lord Windermere and Lyreen Legend clear to fight out the finish.
It was hard to categorically say Boston Bob would have held on but stamina is very much in his make up so it would have been very close. Saying that, it was hard not to like the style of the winner, who had been narrowly beaten in his last two starts but relished the conditions at Prestbury Park.
Whether the race has any bearing on this year’s Gold Cup is hard to make a case for.
2014 Major Players
An RSA Chase contender usually can be spotted a mile off, so the contenders for this year’s renewal look easy to pinpoint. To be a contender for the RSA you need stamina in abundance along with some good novice hurdle form under your belt.
That certainly is a criteria filled by last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Champagne Fever, who looks set for a crack over fences this year and is full of RSA qualities. Trained by Willie Mullins, the gutsy grey is unbeaten at Cheltenham and has a very similar profile to 2012 winner Bobs Worth.
As per, Mullins looks spoilt for choice in the staying chase department and Supreme fourth Un Atout should improve readily for a step up in trip and being put over fences. He and Champagne Fever will probably be kept apart over the season and win more races than lose them.
Of the UK brigade, African Gold has big hopes on his shoulders from the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard. He finished second behind the very game At Fishers Cross in the Albert Bartlett and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see that race work out very strongly from a form point of view.
Betting advice: strong race trends
As touched upon briefly, horses with a classy novice hurdle background seem to outperform bumper and second-season chasers. Of the last 21 RSA winners, 18 were competing at a graded level in novice hurdles.
This damming statistic has managed to get plenty of well-backed horses for this contest beat in recent years, including Time For Rupert, Grands Crus and Dynaste, who all had been campaigned the previous season three mile open hurdling contests.
The faith behind African Gold from some shrewd corners probably resides with the fact he finished second in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival, which has proved to be a very strong pointer for this race. Three of the last five winners ran in the Albert Bartlett and Boston Bob, who was leading before taking a fall at the last, was the highest placed finisher running in the RSA from the previous year’s Albert Bartlett.
Lord Windermere’s win last season has also now extended seven-year-olds winning run in this event to seven straight renewals.
It’s best to keep an eye on the Grade Two Fuller’s Pride Novices’ Chase run at Newbury on Hennessy day, the Betfred Novices Chase at Aintree in November and Ascot’s Reynoldstown Chase in February, where horses who get beaten there have a strangely superb record of winning the RSA. In Ireland, the Topaz Novice Chase run on Irish Hennessy day along with the Dr P J Moriarty Chase at Leopardstown are well worth watching.
Twiston-Davies is a very underrated trainer in terms of plotting a winning performance by a horse in big races, and African Gold looks well capable of developing into a top class novice chaser this season. With previous Cheltenham form in the bank, the 16/1 shot with Bet365 looks a very interesting ante post play.