Cheltenham Festival 2019: RSA Chase Preview
If the Ballymore is the best graded novice hurdle race of the week then this is undoubtedly the best graded novice chase. At the top of the market you have three horses you could easily see competing in next year’s Gold Cup.
In terms of the Anglo-Irish winners of this race, it has generally been quite even in recent years 6-4 to Ireland in that respect. With Nicky Henderson winning it twice during that time for Britain. He will run Santini here providing he has recovered from losing a shoe when schooling at Newbury last weekend. Santini came third in last season’s Albert Bartlett at The Festival which is usually a good indicator as to how horses perform in this race, for example Bob’s Worth ran in that race and went on to win the RSA. No horse seems more tailor made for a fence then Santini, however; he has only had two runs over fences and has not been seen since finishing third to La Bag Au Roi at Kempton over Christmas. I would have liked to see him have at least one more run under his belt and this is a race that can be quite tough on novices. He did miss an intended engagement at Ascot due to not being vaccinated, which if he had won probably would leave him spot on for this and I would be siding towards him if he had won in good style there.
Topofthegame seems tailor made for a fence, he is absolutely massive and beat Santini at Kempton on Boxing Day fair and square and also having to give Warren Greatrex’s La Bag Au Roi 7lb. I think Topofthegame probably should have won that race, he got to the front too soon. But despite this still beat Santini on a track that did not appear to suit him as much as it did not suit Santini. He has form at Cheltenham too, finishing second in the Coral Cup handicap having had to carry 11st 9lb on his back against good hurdlers over a trip that was clearly short of his optimum. Like Santini, I would have liked to see Topofthegame have another run over fences to gain some experience but for my money he should definitely be shorter in the betting than Santini.
As a result of Santini’s lost shoe causing hysteria in the betting market it has made Delta Work for Gordon Elliot favourite. He is unbeaten over fences, jumps and stays well and has course form. He won the Pertemps Final last year and really got his head down to win showing he loves a scrap. He followed that up when he was just denied in a Grade 1 at Punchestown by Next Destination in April, having previously easily beaten Le Richebourg earlier this year (a horse that has won twice since) which is no small feat. Having shown signs of improvement over hurdles he was switched to fences this season and has been foot perfect. He is a dual Grade 1 winner over the larger obstacles and unlike the other two at the head of the betting, has not had issues with his prep. He was an intended runner at the Dublin Racing Festival but was confirmed a non-runner due to the ground being too quick, which was completely understandable. Gordon Elliott seemed bullish about him at the Betfair preview night on Wednesday just gone and I think he will drift in the betting on the day if Santini does run. My advice would be to back Delta Work on the day as I would expect him to drift to around 3/1 and Santini go off around 9/4 favourite.
Recommendation – Delta Work 9/4 available with Betfair, but you might get a better price on the day.