Reynoldstown Chase pointers
The Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices' Chase has been a big pointer to the Cheltenham Festival in recent years, we look at this year's entry.
Our Kaempfer heads the Reynoldstown betting but could struggle in the RSA
Saturday's Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices' Chase at Ascot has proved to be a decent trial for the following month's RSA Chase at over the years.
Two of the last 10 winners have gone on to enjoy success at the Cheltenham Festival with Albertas Run and O'Faolains Boy successful but the race's impact on the four days at Prestbury Park does not stop there.
Bobs Worth could only finish second at Ascot but went one better in the RSA Chase while last year's renewal saw runner-up Minella Rocco go on to win the National Hunt Chase and Ballyalton, who fell, landed the novices' handicap chase on the opening day.
This year's entry includes leading candidates for the RSA Chase and National Hunt Chase and we run through them here.
Second season novice having won a handicap at the Punchestown Festival at the end of April. Was expected to need the run when only seventh in a course and distance handicap in mid-December and is entitled to come on for it but his season has been geared around the National Hunt Chase for which he is a best priced 20/1. Also entered in a handicap on the same card.
A 25/1 chance for the RSA Chase and 14/1 for the Ultima Handicap Chase on the opening day while he is still entered in the National Hunt Chase. Has always been well regarded and proved his ability to cope with the hustle and bustle of the Cheltenham Festival when a three-length fifth in the Pertemps Final last March. Wide margin win at Kempton sees him come into this race as the highest rated runner and only 6lbs inferior to current RSA favourite Might Bite but he'll need to win as impressively again to be viewed as a live one for Grade One honours despite that.
Talked up for the National Hunt Chase by his trainer at a recent open day and currently second favourite for that race at 14/1. Expected to relish the four mile trip there so defeat here needn't spell the end of the Festival chances of last year's Pertemps second who has improved for each of his three runs over fences.
Aux Ptit Soins
Connections have suggested that the 2015 Coral Cup winner will revert to hurdles having failed to take to chasing like a duck to water and he holds entries at Haydock. Interesting to see if he recaptures his old zest over the smaller obstacles.
Comfortably accounted for Our Kaempfer at Newbury in November and then chased home Thistlecrack at the same venue. Tipped to run a big race in the Sky Bet Chase on his handicap debut last month but was already struggling when slipping up on the flat. Yard won this race with O'Faolains Boy and no surprise if this eight-year-old can leave his Doncaster run behind and book his place at the Festival with the handicaps looking his best chance of success.
Has done nearly all of his running on very testing ground so in all likelihood would need conditions to be testing at Cheltenham if he were to take up his entry in the National Hunt Chase. Easy winner at Hereford last time but previously put in his place at Warwick and looks to have it all to do here, let alone next month.
Possibly the one runner in the field who could drop back in trip at the Festival with the majority of his form at around two and a half miles (did win over three miles at Exeter in November) although he's currently 1lb too high in the weights for the novices' handicap on the first day. Yard has an excellent record in this contest but he's not one of their leading lights and a little generosity from the handicapper after he's been beaten here wouldn't go amiss!
Better known as a relation to Carruthers (winner of this race in 2009) and Coneygree than for his own exploits but he does have a good bit of ability of his own. It's been far from plain sailing since his novice hurdle days though and hard to know quite what to expect for all that he could come on in leaps and bounds for last month's run at Chepstow. Big prices for the RSA and NH Chase and handicaps would offer a better chance but he's another who has shown his best when the mud is flying and may enjoy this winter ground far more than spring conditions.
Label Des Obeaux
Looks every inch the dour stayer so no surprise that he's shorter for the NH Chase than the RSA (40s to 50s). Bumped into decent performers in his first three runs over fences before converting a relatively easy opportunity at Ludlow and has shown a decent standard of form without progressing as might have been hoped. Four miles should be up his street but he would have plenty to find at the weights with the leading protagonists if lining up next month unless he produces something remarkable here.
Represents the same connections as Fletchers Flyer. Promise over hurdles in his short career and holds entries for the Festival over timber. Yet to run over fences.
This doesn't look the strongest renewal of this Grade Two contest and it looks more likely to have an impact on the handicaps at the Festival than the novice races if at all. The obvious exception is Arpege d'Alene but any juice in that one's price was squeezed out following Paul Nicholls' upbeat comments last week.
Another big run from Our Kaempfer could tee him up nicely for a title at the Ultima unless the handicapper overreacts in which case connections would be forced to look at the RSA Chase where he would have a good deal more to prove.
In many respects, the most interesting runner could be Bigbadjohn who failed to live up to the 'handicap blot' billing at Doncaster but could yet bounce back and put himself in the frame for Cheltenham.