The Blue Riband, the race I and many others consider to be the “race of the season”, recent renewals have seen a mixture of champions and some poor races with well-below average winners. For every: Kicking King, Kauto Star, Denman and arguably Long Run (although he lacked longevity) there’s a Lord Windermere, Bobs Worth and Syncronised. Somewhere in between there’s been a host of promising
young chasers that have won, only for their careers to be curtailed and it can’t be coincidence, so my conclusion is that the race is so brutal that some winners never recover. Everyone remembers Denman’s owner Harry Findlay boasting that “he broke Kauto’s heart” when in reality, he nearly broke his own. The last Gold Cup of the decade saw an impressive new champion in Al Boum Photo and he looks set
to defend his crown with plenty of confidence. Last year also saw what is looking a vintage renewal of the RSA Chase, which is working out well, it’s a shame that the winner, Topofthegame, is injured for the season but both placed horses: Santini and Delta Work, have impressed with wins in recognised trials and return with solid claims. Although Topofthegame was the best on the day, there are arguments for the second and third to improve. Santini reportedly had an interrupted preparation and Delta Work was slightly impeded on the run-in and may have finished closer. I’m still in two minds about Santini’s win in the Cotswold Chase; on the one hand he outstayed a genuine grade one performer in Bristol Di Mai, on the other hand he beat a horse who finished third in last year’s Gold Cup and who rarely produces his best at Prestbury Park. He also made several jumping errors and
appeared to be off the bridle at the top of the hill and if you can’t go the pace at that stage of the big one you are going to struggle – in short I’d like to be “on” already at a decent price but, at around 7/2, I’m not tempted at this stage. I like to see the King George winner double-up in the Gold Cup but I can’t see Clan Des Obeaux doing it, I just thought he was completely out-stayed in last year’s renewal and I’m not persuaded by the “he’s improved physically this year” argument, he will get outstayed again. Al Boum Photo would be the first since Best Mate to retain the crown [Kauto regained his]and has certainly been campaigned in a similar way to the triple Gold Cup winner with just the one run in a race well below his grade, the Grade 3 Savills Chase at Tramore. He was magnificent in winning racing’s greatest prize at the age of seven and has potential to improve as he may not have peaked yet. The win was even more impressive given that he made a serious error at the penultimate fence. The one concern is that he needs give in the ground and wouldn’t want a drying week. Stablemate Kemboy hasn’t looked in the same sort of form as he was last season. Lostintranslation is a contender if bouncing back after his poor effort in the King George, he looked a real player when winning the Betfair Chase. I wouldn’t read the form of his Aintree win too literally as I think Topofthegame had peaked at Cheltenham last year. Not surprisingly at this stage of a mature market, I think the prices are spot on with around 2/1 ON that the winner will come from the quartet of: Al Boum Photo, Santini, Delta Work and Lostintranslation. What is surprising is that I can find no each-way angle to the race, outside of those four I don’t think anything else is good enough unless Kemboy can return to his spring form of last spring. Al Boum Photo is the pick but I will have to wait to see what the going is next Friday.