RSA Chase Ante-Post Preview: Sam Brown is some bet

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Topofthegame was an impressive winner of the RSA last year.
Topofthegame was an impressive winner of the RSA last year.

Following the release of the entries for this year’s RSA Chase on Thursday lunchtime, Joe Tuffin has taken a look at the field and picked out a 20/1 each-way fancy…

The latest release of entries for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival on Thursday lunchtime saw a total of 53 throw their hats into the ring for the RSA Chase, a race which has a habit of producing future Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders. 

The headline act is the notoriously unpredictable Champ, who currently tops the market at 3/1. The horse tipped for the very top by those around him has had a rollercoaster season, with all three of his chase outings being beset by issues; be that falling when clear last time out, nearly running out on his penultimate start or some questionable jumping on his chase debut. He is clearly incredibly talented, but the drawbacks are there and visible, which is enough to oppose him at the prices at this stage.

The first of the 23 Irish raiders in the betting can be found in the form of last year’s shock 50/1 Albert Bartlett winner, Minella Indo. Henry De Bromhead’s seven-year-old has made two starts over fences so far, winning one and finding only Laurina too good on the other occasion. He’s a classy performer, but you get the feeling that his current price is based more on reputation than what he’s been able to show so far, and others make more appeal at present. 

One of Gordon Elliot’s main Festival hopes from last season is also prominent in the market for this in Battleoverdoyen, who was very disappointing when pulling up in the Ballymore as the 3/1 favourite. His chasing career has got off to a good start though, with an unblemished form-line after three starts, including wins at Grade 1 & 2 level the last twice. The strength of those races aren’t much to write home about, however, and he only had to beat two home to record his Grade 1 success, with one of those being his stablemate Champagne Classic - who also holds an entry here, but would have to find plenty to have a serious say. Battleoverdoyen feels short enough in the market considering that he has been shaping as though three miles may be too sharp for him, and it would be no surprise should connections instead decide to take up his entry in the National Hunt Chase over closer to four miles. 

Slate House can be found in the betting at 10/1, and has a good chance of providing Cheltenham glory for the Tizzard team. He’s something of an anomaly in the novice chasing ranks due to the fact that this is his second campaign after four winless starts last season, and the eight-year-old has been a bit of a revelation this year by winning three of his four outings, notably the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase last time out. Indeed, it should really be four from four but for falling late on in the BetVictor Gold Cup, although it’s of course worth noting that clearing the fences is of course a vital part of the game. There isn’t much to be said against him and the double figure price about the gelding may well be gone by the time March arrives. 

The seasoned veteran Faugheen comes next in the market, and although he’s taken to fences like the cliche duck to water, he joins a list of entrants that will likely head elsewhere, in his case the Marsh Novices’ Chase (formerly the JLT). Laurina and Samcro are another two guilty of this, with the latter being considered for handicapping.

Black Op was a Grade 1-winning novice hurdler, and is currently 12/1 for both this and the Marsh Chase. He has shown some nice form as a novice chaser so far, too, running out a cosy winner of a low grade event at Stratford in October, before taking the plunge and heading straight into graded company the last twice. He’s finished second on both of those occasions and hasn’t been beaten by far, finishing a fine second behind Slate House in the Kauto Star at Kempton last time out. Like Slate House, the aforementioned Champ defeated Black Op in his other graded outing, and he’ll need more to reverse the form here. 

Willie Mullins’ has several entered here, including Allaho, whose only chase start came when second behind stablemate Easy Game at Leopardstown back in December. The latter looks set to go to the Marsh, whereas the former is incredibly inexperienced and as such is hard to weigh up at this lofty level, meaning an intended run at the Dublin Racing Festival could give us a clearer picture of his claims.

Pym, the horse burdened with carrying the same colours of the imperious Altior, is a 16/1 chance and the first of a few that present good each-way value. He’s had three starts so far this term, winning two and finishing second in the other, but boasts both course and distance form having sauntered to an eight-length victory last time out. Admittedly, the races he’s contested so far haven't been at the same level as some of his opponents, but official ratings have him only 1 lb worse than the clear favourite Champ, so he’s definitely one to note. 

Master Tommytucker is another that could well have a say, although there are a few jumping issues that you would hope will be ironed out before siding with him. The nine-year-old is incredibly lightly-raced, making only five starts under Rules to date - winning three and falling in the other two. He is clearly well regarded by connections having been sent off a 5/2 second favourite for the Grade 1 Kauto Star Chase last time out, but you’d have a tough time punting horses based off that alone so he’s best watched.

The best each-way value available and debatably the best bet in the race may well be Sam Brown, a horse that would have confused many a fan had you said he’d win the RSA at the start of the season given he hadn’t been seen for 750 days. His comeback was a highly anticipated one considering his unbeaten 2017 bumper form included the notable scalps of Lalor, Chef Des Obeaux and Talkischeap, but his chase form can speak for itself. A facile winner on his comeback at Lingfield, he was thrown in to Grade 2 company at Haydock earlier this month, an assignment which proved no challenge as he ran out a 15-length winner. He may need the ground to come up bottomless to be considered a true stand out contender, but it’s difficult to not be impressed with how he's taken to fences and the 20/1 about him looks very appealing. 

Selection

RSA Chase, Cheltenham Festival, Wednesday 11th March 2020 - back Sam Brown each-way at 20/1 

Tip

RSA Chase
Sam Brown silk

Sam Brown (EW)

A facile winner on his comeback at Lingfield, he was thrown in to Grade 2 company which proved no challenge as he ran out a 15-length winner from Knight In Dubai. He may need the ground to come up bottomless to be considered a true standout contender, but it’s difficult to not be impressed with how he's taken to fences and the 20/1 about him looks very appealing. 

Marsh Novices' Chase Preview
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