RSA Steeple Chase – Wednesday 11 March 2009

This year’s Festival promises to be a cracker and it looks like the rematch between Kauto Star and title holder Denman is on in the Gold Cup. With Kauto winning the King George on Boxing Day impressiveley and Denam likely to reappear at Newbury in early February the excitement is beginning to boil niceley.
The main aim of this blog is to try try and select a few winners and pass on news as it happens live from Cheltenham. Last year, I broke the news of the Wednesday abandonement before all the major racing websites and once again I’ll be providing up to date going and weather news.
Once again I recommend a point each way on each selection. Last year this approach yielded over 10 points in profit. My first selection for this year’s Festival in the RSA Steeple Chase on Wednesday 11 March. A slight change of name this year and always one of my favourite (and luckiest!) races.
The selection is What A Friend who is currently available at 10/1 with Paddy Power. The price has gradually shortened from 14/1 (which I availed myself of) since his victory over Ballyfitz at Cheltenham on the 13 December and interestingly he was cut further today to 8/1 by the Tote. It’s always encouraging to see gradual solid support ante-post and indeed What A Friend is now favourite.
On the track he has been brought along slowly by Paul Nicholls with just the 2 runs over fences both resulting in wins. He made his fencing debut in a 3m 2 furlong chase at Uttoxeter when beating Carruthers at the end of October and improved on that when gaining useful experience of Cheltenham. The first outing proved he has strong stamina which is a characteristic you need for this race. At Cheltenham, despite a mistake 2 out he won easily enough and it looks like there is plenty of improvement to come. The Champion Trainer has a host of entries in this race but What A Friend is considered the number one contender. Kempton Boxing Day winner, Breedsbreeze is close to favouritism but I don’t think Cheltenham is his track and would not be surprised to see him aimed for an Irish race or the Aintree Festival.
Going shouldn’t be a factor as he has even won on Good to Firm. What A Friend is likely to have one more run before the Festival and if succesful he will start a short priced favourite on the day. Take the 10/1 with Paddy Power now and hopefully you can celebrate with co-owner Alex Ferguson at about 2.50pm on the Wednesday.