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RSA Chase (Grade 1)
Taking place on Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival (Wednesday 15th March 2017), the three mile RSA Novices’ Chase is a Grade 1 race and is often seen as a trial for potential Gold Cup horses. Runners carry 11 stone 4 pounds (five-year-olds receive a two pound allowance and mares receive seven pounds) over the 19 fences.
Though Might Bite is seen as a ‘Festival Banker’ for many, we are happy to oppose him with Alpha Des Obeaux for Mouse Morris and Gigginstown House Stud. Second to the mighty Thistlecrack in the World Hurdle last season, he hasn’t had the easiest of preparations for Cheltenham this time around but isn’t one to discount on the bare figures alone.
Finding the trip too short on chasing debut at Tipperary in October, he improved on that when upped to the 2m 6f trip to win at Thurles two weeks later. He again recorded a comfortable success at Cork two weeks later and has had excuses the last twice for his defeats. He was far from disgraced when third at Fairyhouse in the Drinmore Chase, only beaten four lengths despite the trip being much too short for him. Finally upped to the three mile trip, he was in the process of running a good race in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown before bursting blood vessels, weakening rapidly straight after.
He’s proven that he suits Cheltenham in the past and it’s strong galloping nature should suit him perfectly, with his ground versatility another obvious plus for Mouse Morris’ seven year old. He remains with scope for progress in this sphere and if all goes to plan, he looks likely to go very close.
The betting trends for the RSA Chase worth considering are as follows:
- 9 of the last 10 winners had at least 3 runs chasing
- 10 of the previous 10 winners had recorded a top chasing RacingPost Rating (RPR) of 150
- 10 of the previous 10 winners had at least placed in a Grade 1 or Grade 2 Chase race already
- 9 of those 10 had won a Grade 1 or Grade 2 Chase
- 9 of the last 10 finished 1st or 2nd in their last start before the RSA Chase (the other one finished 3rd)
- 8 of the previous 10 winners had won over 2 miles 5 furlongs or further
- 7 of the last 10 had won over 2 miles 7 furlongs or further
- Only 4 of the last 10 winners were 150+ rated hurdlers, although all had marks
Only one trainer has won this race twice in the last ten years and it is the usual suspect – Willie Mullins (2009 and 2015). Barry Geraghty, A P McCoy and Davy Russell are the leading jockeys in the last ten years with two wins each.
Trends Analysis: Trends for the RSA Chase show that chasing experience and a Grade 1 or 2 win are common traits among the last ten winners. This is perhaps surprising that, given the number of last time out winners and the amount of experience the winners have, only seven of the last ten have won over two miles seven furlongs or further. However, do not rule out horses who lack three mile experience – even when there’s the Cheltenham hill to contend with.
The RSA Chase has often been used by trainers to give new and high potential chasers their first real taste of festival racing. Future Gold Cup winners like Denman and Bobs Worth began their Cheltenham victory trail with wins in the RSA, before moving up into the bigger races. The three mile trip is difficult and requires a lot of stamina, so it is not surprising that there have been plenty of shocks throughout the years. Don Poli’s win in 2015 was the first time the favourite had come out on top in seven years, with previous winners’ odds ranging from 9/2 to 16/1. Our RSA Chase preview can be found below, with a tip to come soon.
Improving with every run, Might Bite announced himself as a main contender when winning with the makings of a very promising novice at Doncaster on his third chasing start. Upped in trip, he showed even more class and had the race at his mercy at Kempton in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase when falling at the final fence, 18 lengths clear at the time. It was a heavy fall but thankfully didn’t damage his confidence in anyway, as a returned to win by a literal distance at Doncaster in February. The way in which he was about to win the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase that day was impressive and has to put him firmly into the picture. A horse who will need better ground to show his best, the drop back to two miles four furlongs would not be an issue, with successes at that distance previously. He can also handle Cheltenham, as evidenced in a smooth success over C&D over hurdles in 2015. Nicky Henderson will be bidding to win his third RSA chase following Trabolgan and Bobs Worth’s previous successes, and he looks to have a good chance again with this eight-year-old gelding.
It’s been a far from easy preparation for Mouse Morris’ Alpha Des Obeaux, but is the biggest threat to Might Bite when his form is drilled into. Second to the mighty Thistlecrack in the World Hurdle at the Festival last season, he has taken a while to get his act together over fences but has won twice over these obstacles. When upped in Grade 1 company, he was in the process of running a good race until weakening rapidly after bursting blood vessels. That effort can obviously be dismissed and he remains with potential over these obstacles, especially as he still hasn’t had a clear run at the three mile trip over fences. His strong galloping nature should suit him perfectly to Cheltenham over these obstacles, and isn’t one to dismiss on the bare figures. He looks likely to run a cracker if all things go to plan and has to be respected as such.
The current ante-post favourite, and five points clear of the others, Bellshill has won both his races thus far as a chaser and is most likely a worthy favourite for the race. He showed immediate promise as a hurdler last season and, despite a poor showing in the Supreme Novices’ at Cheltenham due to some sticky jumps, he made amends when a close second in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, running on well but just headed in the final strides. He had seemingly taken well to fences, winning both his runs so far, including a Grade 2 at Limerick on Boxing Day. He did however fall in the Flogas Novice Chase in February, well beaten at the time after being out the back. That run has left a huge question mark about him, and does leave him with a lot to prove come March. Going up in trip should certainly suit so there is hope for better, but it’s hard to be confident now. Still likely more to come and he still needs considering, but others do have more pressing claims.
Along with our RSA Chase preview and tip, we have all our other Cheltenham Festival tips and previews online to view now!
These are the final declerations for the RSA Chase in racecard order:
- Acapella Bourgeois
- Alpha Des Obeaux
- Heron Heights
- Might Bite
- O O Seven
- Our Kaempfer
- Royal Vacation
- Briery Belle