Ballynagour can bounce back to land Denman Chase
David Metcalf | February 13, 2016
Ballynagour can bounce back from a couple of below par efforts to get back to winning ways in the Denman Chase at Newbury (14.25), now eased in grade.
The David Pipe trained gelding is a very smart performer when on-song, as he showed when winning the Byrne Group Plate at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival and finishing a cracking head second to Silvianco Conti, in a Grade 1 contest at Aintree last season.
Ballynagour also ran right up to his best on seasonal reappearance back in October when third to Cue Card in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
Charlie Hall Chase form strong
The 10-year-old kept on well to be beaten four lengths, and the winner has since gone to bag a brace of Grade 1 successes – including the King George at Kempton – to give the form a rock solid look in the context of this contest.
Although Ballynagour has since failed to shine in two subsequent outings, those runs have come at the highest level and the drop back down into Grade 2 company is likely to see him in a far better light.
Ballynagour is also officially the highest rated in the line-up off 159, 1lb clear of his main market rival Rocky Creek.
The conditions of the race mean that he receives 6lb from that rival, so Ballynagour clearly has everything in his favour if putting his best foot forward.
Rocky Creek faces stiff task
Rocky Creek, who is trained by Paul Nicholls, was pulled-up in the Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree on his most recent outing but had previously chased home leading Gold Cup hope Don Cossack at Down Royal.
That run entitles the 10-year-old to plenty of respect, but Rocky Creek has often failed to impress with his finishing effort and faces a tough task giving weight to all bar one of his rivals.
Houblon Des Obeaux, who chased home subsequent Gold Cup winner Coneygree in this contest 12 months ago, may well emerge as the biggest danger to Ballynagour.
The Venetia Williams’ trained nine-year-old revels in testing conditions, and if the fitting of the cheekpieces for the first time have the desired effect, has form in the book which makes him a big player in what is a sub standard renewal of the race.