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14.05 Cheltenham: Carlingford Lough has Irish form to win RSA

Ireland have a strong team of contenders in a wide open renewal of the RSA Chase and Carlingford Lough looks the value bet to come out on top.

John Kiely’s charge heads into the contest with plenty of chasing experience under his belt (13 runs), and that is a big plus as the last 14 winners have all ran three times or more over the larger obstacles.

The JP McManus-owned eight-year-old has also contested the two key Irish trials for the RSA – the Topaz Chase and the Dr PJ Moriarty Chase – and horses that have won or been placed in those Grade 1 Leopardstown contests have won four of the last five runnings of the RSA.

That augurs well for Carlingford Lough, who showed a game attitude to beat Morning Assembly by 1 1/2 lengths in the Topaz before unseating Tony McCoy last time out at the final fence in the Moriarity when still holding every chance.

Whether he would have won the latter is debatable, but the small field and slow pace were against him that day and the bigger field and stronger gallop in this are sure to suit him much better.

Another plus is that he has shown a willingness to dig deep and battle, and that will stand him in good stead in this test.

Willie Mullins’ Ballcasey went on to win the Topaz after Carlingford Lough departed at the last and is favourite to come out on top again.

He had the run of the race that day, being allowed to set his own pace at the head of affairs, and it will be interesting to see how he fares if taken on early doors and having his jumping put to the test.

The seven-year-old fell in a recent racecourse schooling session, and that is hardly the ideal prep. He has also had just two runs over fences under rules, and that is a big negative as the last 14 winners of the RSA had all run three or more times over fences.

Of the others, Rebecca Curtis’ O’Faolains Boy looks capable of running a huge race at a big price.He put himself firmly in the reckoning for this when bouncing back to form to score in impressive fashion at Ascot, where he proved far too strong for some highly-regarded types.

The race had been billed as a match beforehand between David Pipe’s Gevrey Chambertin and Oliver Sherwood’s Many Clouds, but they were firmly put in their place by the seven-year-old.

He took up the running two from home and stayed on strongly in the hands of Barry Geraghty to beat Many Clouds by 2 1/2 lengths, and it was a performance which entitles him to plenty of respect in this.