It takes a gutsy, yet supremely talented horse to prevail in the RSA Chase – which is seen as the Gold Cup for the novices and the 2014 renewal is being run on Wednesday 12 March.
The RSA slog has previously been a stepping stone for future Gold Cup horses and the roll of honour includes Brown Chamberlin (1982), Garrison Savannah (1990), Looks Like Trouble (1999), Denman (2007) and Bobs Worth (2013) to have done the double.
As with most races at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, Willie Mullins saddles the market leader in the form of Ballycasey.
The highly-regarded son of Presenting, whose only defeat over hurdles came in the 3m Grade One Novices’ Hurdle at Punchestown in April, has always been tipped up as a potential top-class animal over fences and seems to be answering those calls this season.
However, the vibes surrounding the animal over the past few weeks have been worrying as he took a tumble in a public schooling session in Ireland. He’s been weak ever since in the market and can be backed at 11/2.
The strongest contender in terms of Cheltenham Festival pedigree is Smad Place, who has finished third in two World Hurdles but was always made for chasing at the top-level. Alan King’s charge has built on that promise this season, winning at Exeter and Newbury after falling at Huntingdon on his debut when se for victory.
Jockey Robert Thornton has been very open regarding the excitement Smad Place gives him when riding and according to him he’s much better than a 7/1 shot.
Corrin Wood, who has progressed rapidly over fences this season, is a horse that needs upmost respect from punters ahead of this year’s renewal. You would be hard pushed to find a horse that jumps a fence better than Corrin Wood when he won at Warwick earlier this season.
He jumped the very well regarded Black Thunder from the Paul Nicholls stable into submission and looks a gutsy stayer capable of running very well at the Cheltenham Festival. Trainer Donald McCain has been very bullish at the many Festival preview nights he attended over the last few weeks and hasn’t put anyone off having a punt on his potentially top-class staying chaser.
You can get 8/1 on Corrin Wood’s chances.