RSA Chase 2014 Preview by Adam Webb

The RSA Chase is considered to be the novice equivalent of the Gold Cup with several winners of this race going on to triumph in jump racing’s blue riband event with recent champions including Bob’s Worth ,who won last year’s event before taking this year’s Gold Cup, Denman who took this in 2007 before destroying Kauto Star in the Gold Cup a year later and Looks Like Trouble. Although it could be argued that he was lucky to win the RSA Chase after Nick Dundee’s sickening fall at the third last but proved he was a good horse by going on to take the first Gold Cup of this century.

The trap of doing an ante-post piece now is that we don’t know the running plans for most horses until we get nearer the Cheltenham Festival with several of the lead fancies likely to have multiple entries. Plus an added risk with novice chases is whether the horse actually takes to the discipline of jumping fences.

Plenty has been said about Champagne Fever and how he should have gone chasing last season as opposed to going over hurdles, but he showed how good he is by taking the Supreme Hurdle over a trip that is probably on the sharp side for him under a masterful Ruby Walsh. He looks every inch a Gold Cup horse for the future but if he was mine, I would personally aim him at the Jewson. In my opinion, it tends to cut up and become the easier race but since writing this piece initially, it has now become a Grade One race so this could make the race even more competitive but unlike most, he would also have the Arkle under consideration. If he does go for this race, his stamina wouldn’t be a concern for me plus with Festival form tending to repeat itself year after year, he must command respect in whatever race he runs. Mullins also trains Ballycasey for the same owner Mrs S Ricci and he would have an excellent chance in this with a bit of cut in the ground but he was slightly disappointing on his last start at the Punchestown Festival when put in his place by Morning Assembly. He did miss Cheltenham when pulled out on the day due to a muscle injury where I believe he wouldn’t have beaten At Fisher’s Cross but would’ve fought out the minor placings.

The English challenge looks to be headed by African Gold. Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, the 5 year old gelding did nothing but improve throughout his novice hurdle campaign with his best run coming behind At Fisher’s Cross in the Albert Bartlett. His handler believes he is one of the best he has trained which is a huge compliment considering some of the talented individuals Twiston-Davies has had over the years, so his comments must be noted with this horse’s future looking bright. Others to consider include Smad Place if he goes chasing after some fine efforts in top company in staying hurdle races and Coneygree if the ground came up really soft come the Festival, otherwise the four miler would look tailor-made for him even on slightly better ground.

What are your fancies at this stage? Let us know in the Comments below.

*Edited on Saturday 27th July – Pont Alexandre is more than likely to be a non-runner but I will leave my views on him here for future reference for myself and others who may be interested

Willie Mullins has another of the ante post favourites for this race in Pont Alexandre who was turned over in the Neptune when third behind The New One. He looked impressive on his two starts in Ireland with him being touted as the next ‘good thing’ before Cheltenham but Mullins said after the festival that travelling over was a huge disadvantage to his chances. Even if he turned up to Cheltenham, I would be worried after his Neptune run but some horses can overcome a previous festival blip like Denman did but the jury’s out currently.