Champion Court won what will surely be the first of several novice chases yesterday when taking the Matalan Novices Chase at Aintree over 2 and half miles. I’m hopeful that his most important victory of the season will come on the 14 March 2012 at Cheltenham in the RSA Novices Chase.
This lovely looking gelding has been the apple of his trainer’s eye since his purchase after winning a bumper at Kilbeggan in May 2010. His best form last season came at the Festival when coming 4th behind Bob’s Worth in the Albert Bartlett. As regular readers will know I’m a strong believer in Cheltenham form and he further demonstrated his liking for Prestbury Park when winning a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle at the Paddy Power meeting in November.
His chasing career got off to an inauspicious start when unseating AP McCoy in a small novice chase at Perth. Although he clouted a few at Aintree on Sunday we can forgive him that as he’s still learning. Indeed, he still has a very raw look when racing and there’s plenty of development in his racing style and improvement in form to come. What he did show was the ability to win over fences and he can go on from here particularly when stepped up in distance which is the plan. Martin Keighley states, “Champion Court settled much better today than he did at Perth. He needs 3m and I´ll look for a race at the Paddy Power meeting if the ground is soft there.” It’s interesting his trainer thinks he’ll be a better horse on soft as it was good when he was 4th at the Festival. On recent history it seems unlikely he’ll get soft ground in March but it was good when he was 4th behind Bob’s Worth so he should be OK. Who knows? It might even be a soft ground Festival for a change.
So to sum up we have a progressive young chaser who is highly thought of by the trainer and who will improve with further racing and when tackling 3 miles. He’s tailor made for an already hot looking RSA Chase. The market is headed by Grand Crus who is 8/1 generally. If he transfers his World Hurdle form to fences he’ll be hard to beat but as he’s yet to tackle a fence I’m prepared to take him on.
Champion Court is the first of ten JPFestival.com ante-post tips for Cheltenham Festival 2012. Ladbrokes are currently offering a standout 33/1 and I suggest this is taken as it’s unlikely to last for long with some bookmakers as short as 20/1 before yesterday’s win.
Champion Court – RSA Chase – 1 point ew with Ladbrokes at 33/1
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