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Sam Winner enters Cheltenham picture after a change of tactics

Sam Winner was a big mover at the weekend as his victory at Cheltenham saw him introduced into the RSA Chase betting at 14/1.

However this isn’t the first time that he has been quoted for chases at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Paul Nicholls-trained runner was quoted for novice races way back in 2011 as he actually made his debut over fences two years ago.

However two falls – both in small fields – meant that connections decided to put off a career over fences and after suffering an injury, it was a year before he was seen on the track again.

He was a well-beaten favourite in last season’s Pertemps Final but has made a much better transition to the bigger obstacles this year.

Bet on Sam Winner to win the RSA Chase at 14/1

Nicholls’ ace was given a much more positive ride on Saturday than at the last meeting and Daryl Jacob’s aggressive tactics worked to perfection.

The son of Okawango jumped very well and was able to put his three rivals under pressure from a long way out.

Although runner-up Le Bec was upsides at the final fence, the winner ran away from him up the run-in and was four lengths clear at the line.

The two horses had previously clashed at the course a month earlier where Le Bec had won comfortably.

Bet on Le Bec to win the RSA Chase at 16/1

Nicholls explained: “This was the ideal track for him. He wasn’t right last year, but he’s back now and he’s eliminated the silly mistakes.

“He’ll have an entry for the RSA, but he might be a right one for the four-miler at the Festival as he’s a dour stayer.”

The trainer’s comments about the ‘right course’ refer to the race being run on the New Course but both the RSA Chase and the National Hunt (four miler) are run on the Old Course.

Generally viewed as less-testing for the horse’s stamina, that may make Nicholls lean towards the longer race rather than risk being exposed for pace over the three mile RSA.

Le Bec gave Sam Winner 8lbs on Saturday

The second home Le Bec ran a fine race in defeat, especially as he was giving the winner 8lbs.

Emma Lavelle’s charge didn’t jump as smoothly as he had for his two victories and fans of the horse will want to see Noel Fehily – who has ridden him more than Saturday’s jockey Aidan Coleman – back on board next time.

A huge horse who appears to hurdle the obstacles, he’s unlikely to be seen much over the next few months as he needs good ground.

Should he get that in March then the RSA will be the perfect race; he’s worth backing at 16/1.