Cheltenham Clues: February 11th
Last weekend’s trials events at Newbury and Leopardstown have left some Cheltenham clues and riddles to solve so let’s try and unravel the events….
In terms of Cheltenham the races for which most clues were forthcoming were the novice chases, primarily the RSA Chase, with victories for Coneygree and Kings Palace at Newbury and Apache Stronghold at Leopardstown.
Kings Palace‘s race was reduced to a match and little new was learnt about him, though he clearly has the ability to make an impact at the top level.
If Coneygree is in the RSA field, Kings Palace might have trouble leading, for Coneygree maintained a strong gallop all the way in seeing off some seasoned opposition in the Denman Chase.
However, Coneygree has an alternative engagement in the Gold Cup, which must be a tempting option for connections.
The eight-year-old gave another front-running master-class for trainer Mark Bradstock to land the Grade 2 in impressive fashion.
Bradstock was non-committal in the aftermath of this latest success but after some reflection his wife Sarah has confirmed they are no leaning towards a tilt at the big prize over a potential run in the RSA Chase.
“Before Saturday the needle was pointing very much towards the RSA, but after winning like that it’s much closer to the middle,
“We’re not greedy and we’d be happy to win the RSA, but with Silviniaco Conti such a strong favourite despite being beaten last year the Gold Cup is tempting. It might even be the easier race,” she added.
Coneygree is currently priced 13.00 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Bradstock has even hinted it may be an easier option that running against the likes of Don Poli and Kings Palace in novice company.
Bradstock also confirmed that regular rider Nico de Boinville will be back on board Coneygree for his next appearance having missed out at Newbury owing to a whip ban.
David Pipe reported Kings Palace to be “a bit stiff”, but the Pond House handler says he “wouldn’t swap him for anything else” ahead of the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.
Kings Palace has been near the top of the market for the RSA all season following an impressive debut over fences at Prestbury Park in November.
Having defeated Sausalito Sunrise on that occasion he returned to the Cotswolds in December to concede the same rival weight and dish out an even more impressive beating.
He was heavily fancied for what turned out to be a duel at Newbury and despite some jumping errors Tom Scudamore’s mount came home with a cosy looking length in hand over the Paul Nicholls trained Vivaldi Collonges.
He remains prominent in the RSA market at 6.00 behind only Coneygree (4.50) and Don Poli (5.0) and Pipe was upbeat despite some troubles over the obstacles at Newbury.
“It wasn’t entirely straightforward as he made a couple of hair-raising errors at the ditch in the straight, although his jumping at the plain fences was spectacular,” he wrote in his blog.
“He is hugely exciting and I wouldn’t swap him for anything else at this stage,” David Pipe
Apache Stronghold got the better of Valseur Lido in a cracking finish to the Grade 1 novice chase at Leopardstown, gaining revenge for a defeat in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse in December.
He is set to contest the Golden Miller/JLT at the Festival, and will hold good claims on form, though this looks potentially a strong race.
Full Timeform Racecard for 15.55 Musselburgh…….
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