Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 15:17 27/12/2014
Leopardstown stage what could turn out to be the most significant Cheltenham Gold Cup trial of the season courtesy of a highly competitive renewal of the Lexus Chase on Sunday afternoon, a race which features the last two winners of steeplechasing's most presigious contest in Bobs Worth and Lord Windermere. Add this year's narrow runner-up On His Own together with leading Irish chasers Boston Bob, Road To Riches, Carlingford Lough and First Lieutenant and you have all the ingredients for one of the best staying chases of the season.
If reproducing his length and a half victory over First Lieutenant 12 months ago Bobs Worth would take all the beating but Nicky Henderson's charge has not been out since finishing a disappointing fifth at Prestbury Park back in March and will surely come on for tomorrow's run while Lord Windermere seems to reserve his best for Cheltenham in the spring. The Noel Meade-trained Road To Riches ran out a comfortable winner of Down Royal's JNWINE.com Champion Chase last month and has every chance of confirming that form with third home Boston Bob, fourth placed First Lieutenant and the unplaced On His Own but at the 8-1 available with Skybet the value lies with Sam Winner from the Paul Nicholls stable.
The seven-year-old son of Okawango was a good hurdler finishing an unlucky fourth in the 2011 JCB Triumph Hurdle behind stablemate Zarkandar and after making a slow start to his career as a chaser the gelding has started to fulfil his undoubted potential this season and can prove up to mixing it with the best by taking tomorrow's Grade 1 contest at the Irish venue.The mount of Sam Twiston-Davies defied top weight to win the competitive Murphy Group Handicap Chase on his seasonal reappearance at Cheltenham before outbattling Medermit and Ma Filleule at Aintree earlier this month.
Several fences were omitted in that 3m 1f contest which hardly suited Sam Winner yet the horse showed plenty of guts under Nick Scolfield to see off a couple of talented rivals and can put himself bang in the Gold Cup picture, for which he is a 50-1 chance with Bet365, by beating some better fancied opponents on Sunday afternoon.