Of the three RSA ante-post favourites who appeals the most?
After two facile victories this season, Willie Mullins’ runner Don Poli (7/2) is the current ante-post favourite for the RSA. He ended last seasons’ campaign with victory in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle before finishing second to Nicky Henderson’s useful staying hurdler Beat That.
After an initial success over fences on his first start of the season at Gowran Park, he claimed a Grade 1 Novices’ Chase over 3m at Leopardstown, beating Apache Stronghold a horse who has since gone on to win a Grade 1 contest over 2m4f.
Aside from arguably showing his best on soft and heavy ground; his form, jumping style and experience at Cheltenham clearly emphasise his claims. His participation in this race is far from certain however, as he has long been touted as a true stayer with the 4m Chase at the Festival earmarked as a potential target.
Another who is far from certain to line-up is Coneygree (5/1), a horse with arguably the best form in the race after winning the Denman Chase, a Grade 2 contest in open company, with ease. By beating a field of highly rated runners, he firmly established himself as an up and coming force in the staying chasing ranks. So much so, his participation is in doubt as connections are undecided as to whether or not to have a tilt at the Gold Cup.
Kings Palace (5/1) on the other hand looks set to contest this race with trainer David Pipe stating that he is his ‘best hope of a Festival winner’. Unbeaten this season over fences, he has won on two occasions at Cheltenham in imperious fashion. If he has learnt from his efforts in last year’s Albert Bartlett Hurdle, where he failed to deal with the hustle and bustle of a big field, then he has a major chance.
Without the security of NRNB the current RSA market looks to offer value against the favourite by backing Kings Palace. Both Don Poli and Coneygree would give the David Pipe runner plenty to think about, but both have other potential Festival targets. If you forgive his effort at last year’s Festival, Kings Palace looks good value at the current prices.