Conquisto weighted to retain Old Roan crown
Conquisto looks to hold outstanding claims of landing the Old Roan Chase at Aintree today (3.00) for the second year running.
The Stuart Gollings’ trained gelding is a useful chaser when on-song as he showed when winning this 2m 4f contest 12 months ago on seasonal reappearance.
The nine-year-old travelled strongly throughout on the heels of the leaders and after being switched right to deliver a challenge at the final fence only had to be driven out on the run-in to beat Astracad by 1 1/4 lengths off a mark of 150.
Conquisto had three of today’s rivals – Edgardo Sol, Mr Moonshine and Wishful Thinking – well beaten in behind and is now abale to race off 4lb lower.
That gives the son of Hernando major claims from a handicapping perspective, and he has a good record fresh so is unlikely to be found wanting through lack of fitness.
There are plenty of dangers in a wide open and competitive contest, and two that made my shortlist were Rajdhani Express and Uxizandre.
The former is trained by Nicky Henderson and was a progressive sort in the sroing of 2013 when winning the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival before following up with a very easy 15 length victory in a Grade 2 contest at Ayr.
The seven-year-old only had three starts last season, but ran really well on the first of those when fifth of 20 to John’s Spirit in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham and backed that up with a cracking cracking third of 11 to Dynaste in the Ryanair Chase the the Cheltenham Festival.
That is top class form and makes Rajdhani Express a major player in the hands fo Sam Waley-Cohen despite a career-high mark of 158.
Uxizandre was one of the top novice chasers last season, finishing an excellent 3/4 length runner-up to Taquin De Seuil in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival before rounding off fthe campaign with a game 1/2 lengths success in a Garde 1 contest over course and distance.
The Alan King trained gelding remains open to further progress after just five starts over the larger obstacles, and with Barry Geraghty in the saddle looks sure to make his presence felt.