Well rested Quito De La Roque may be too fresh for Festival-weary foes
Aintree’s Grade 1 Bowl has earned a reputation as the proverbial bridge too far for top class steeplchasers in recent years, with Cheltenham Gold Cup star performers Kauto Star, Denman (twice) and Imperial Commander each turned over in Liverpool after excelling in March.
The last three winners, Follow the Plan, What A Friend and Nacarat all reaped the benefits of swerving Cheltenham.
Among those in this year’s race to compete in hard fought championship races at the Festival are Silviniaco Conti 10/11, First Lieutenant 3/1, Cape Tribulation 8/1, The Giant Bolster 8/1 and Menorah 14/1 – all prices from Coral.
All of the above horses will have been trained to peak at Cheltenham to give them their best chance of success in either the Gold Cup or the Ryanair Chase.
Of the trio that forewent the Festival tumult, Quito De La Roque, stands out from the pack (Wayward Prince and Whodoyouthink).
With an official rating of 161, Colm Murphy’s nine-year-old is entitled to be in touch with all but Silviniaco Conti of his Cheltenham-2013-veteran rivals, as none are rated more than 7lbs superior to him in the eyes of the handicapper.
Quito De La Roque is a course and distance winner, taking a Grade 2 novice chase here in 2011, and although he lost to Wayward Prince before traipsing in 59 lengths behind Tidal Bay in the Grade 1 Lexus Chase earlier this season, he then bounced back to beat Roi Du Mee in January in what the Racing Post analyst described at the time as “a pretty spectacular return to form”.
He came home six and a half lengths ahead that rival, who had been chasing a five-timer in the contest, and any thoughts that Roi Du Mee may have been in need of a rest have been dispelled by two more wins for Gordon Elliot’s redoubtable servant since.
Despite winning the majority of his races on soft ground, Quito De La Roque took his course and distance win here on good to soft and has triumphed previously on good ground. He’ll have it all to do to better Siliviniaco Conti (a winner of all his completed starts this term), but unlike that rival he has had the best part of three months off, suggesting that this race may have been his target ever since that January victory.