Aintree 2015: Mildmay Novices’ Chase preview (14:50)
Saphir Du Rheu is a class act and looks a worthy favourite to land the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree (14:50) for champion trainer Paul Nicholls.
The gelding showed ultra progressive form over hurdles last season when winning three of his six starts.
After bolting up by eight lengths in a hot 16-runner handicap at Sandown off a mark of 130, the six-year-old followed up in facile fashion in the valuable Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton before going on to complete the hat-trick in Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las.
Saphir looked an exciting chasing prospect judged on those runs, but he has failed to complete in two of his three starts over the larger obstacles this season.
However, the son of Al Namix was still travelling strongly and yet to be asked a question when falling on his chasing debut at Newbury in a race taken by subsequent Gold Cup winner Conyegree, and did the job in good style next time up when scoring by 11 lengths at Exeter.
Saphir Du Rheu has also shown top class form in his last two starts since being switched back to hurdles, winning a Grade 2 at Cheltenham before finishing a cracking second of 13 to Cole Harden in the World Hurdle at the Festival.
Those runs will have restored Saphir’s confidence, and Nicholls believes the better ground will help his jumping.
If that proves to be the case, then Saphir Du Rheu is potentially a cut above his rivals and is going to be very hard to beat granted a clear round.
Our selection’s stable companion Irish Saint is a consistent sort and looks sure to run well.
The six-year-old has won three of his starts over fences, and was far from disgraced last time out when fourth to the brilliant Vautour in the Grade 1 Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.
Although eventually beaten 18 lengths, Irish Saint pressed the leader until making a bad mistake four from home, and the return to a flatter track looks sure to suit judged on previous efforts.