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The Inside Track on the RSA Chase

| 09.03.2014

The 2014 renewal of the RSA Chase looks an unusually open affair. Willie Mullins’ Ballycasey heads the market and is two from two over fences. He obviously possesses a touch of class, although winning a three-runner Grade 1 at Leopardstown last time (typical of so many of the uncompetitive Graded races in Ireland this season) on soft ground will not be much of a preparation for this test.

Also of concern is that Ballycasey fell whilst schooling after racing at Leopardstown the other day. It would be silly to claim he can’t win, but there must be better bets to be had at his sort of price.

Other Irish raiders to consider are Carlingford Lough, Morning Assembly and Don Cossack. They are all linked through various form-lines in the top graded Irish chases and there isn’t a great deal between them on the book.

The question for all of them is the same – can they reproduce that form at Cheltenham, in a big field, under faster conditions?

None of them have answered that question on the track, although Morning Assembly looks the most interesting of the trio, perhaps having the most scope for further improvement.

Heading the British challenge is Alan King’s SMAD PLACE and there is plenty to like about his chance. His form over fences to date will need improving upon if he is to win here, but he is generally a sound jumper, will appreciate drying ground and perhaps the most significant thing in his favour is his rock solid Cheltenham Festival form.

True, that form came over hurdles, but finishing placed in two World Hurdles behind Big Buck’s demonstrates that he has the street-fighting qualities needed to win at the Festival. He appeals as a really strong contender.

Donald McCain’s Corrin Wood arrives here with an unbeaten record over fences. Jason Maguire gave him a superb ride from the front last time at Warwick when beating Black Thunder (who could reoppose here). The nagging doubt is whether he needs that desperate ground to show his best form – the lack of experience in competitive races on decent ground make him one to oppose. Black Thunder may head for the four miler, but would be a credible contender in this race and he would have decent claims of reversing form with Corrin Wood.

Of the outsiders, Gevrey Chambertin is worth a second look. David Pipe’s gelding was a very smart type over hurdles and I think you can completely forget his chase debut at Ascot, where he was ridden poorly by Tom Scudamore and probably needed the run. He has too much natural ability to be trading at such a big price.

Selection: Smad Place

Alternative: Gevrey Chambertin