Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 11:33 02/02/2015
With doubts surrounding many of the leading fancies for the RSA Chase on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival the race known as the ' Novices' Gold Cup ' is ripe for a decent ante-post value bet, especially with current 5-1 joint favourite Don Poli as short as 3-1 to take the previous day's longer National Hunt Chase.
The David Pipe-trained King Palace disputes favouritism based on two impressive victories at Prestbury Park since going over the bigger obstacles but the son of King's Theatre was found wanting at last year's Festival when coming down at the final flight in the Albert Bartlett when well beaten and will face much stronger opposition in the RSA than encountered to date making his current odds of 5-1 far from appealing.
The Young Master and Vautour ( both priced around the 12-1 mark ) will have at least one other entry at the Festival, the latter possibly two or three, a remark which also applies to several others prominent in the market including JLT second favourite Ptit Zig and Saphir Du Rheu a leading fancy for Thursday's World Hurdle. Third in the ante-post betting at 8-1 is Coneygree and while Mark Bradstock's eight-year-old is due plenty of respect there are a couple of other at bigger prices who boast similar claims.
The powerful Willie Mullins stable has a strong hand with 12 entries and should Don Poli end up running on the first day his Valseur Lido is likely to take over the mantle as their number one hope. Two from two over fences the son of Anzillero landed one of the most competitive novice chases run either side of the Irish sea this season when beating Apache Stronghold in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse back in November and if allowed to run would start considerably shorter than the 12-1 available with Ladbrokes, the snag being that the six-year-old is no bigger than 7-1 for the JLT the following day.
One horse who looks certain to be aimed at the extended three mile contest however and is available at 20-1 with most bookmakers including Bet365, Coral and William Hill is Southfield Theatre who looks tremendous each-way value at that price for a horse who has plenty of top class form to his name. One of only four entries for the Paul Nicholls stable, with Ptit Zig and Saphir Du Rheu almost certain to head elsewhere, the seven-year-old really came into his own over hurdles on decent ground last spring when beaten just a nose in the Pertemps Final before winning a Listed Hurdle at Sandown's final meeting of the season.
The son of King's Theatre won his first two chase starts without much fuss before failing to land odds of 4-11 in a Newbury Grade 2 contest, going down by just over a length to Carrig Mor after blundering at the last. Unsuited by the soft ground that day the gelding will be seen to better effect on the expected decent ground at the Festival and with a good pace virtually guaranteed, conditions sure to suit the gelding, a big run is expected from Southfield Theatre who is far too big at current odds.
1 Point each-way Southfield Theatre 20-1 ( generally )