Battle Hardened Politologue The One To Beat In Melling Chase
Just two of the seven runners in the JLT Chase at Aintree on Friday skipped the Cheltenham Festival and the race will see a rematch of last year with Politologue and Min going head to head.
Ruth Jefferson has had a frustrating season with the somewhat aptly named Waiting Patiently but the eight-year-old, who wears cheek pieces for the first time, does add intrigue to this 2m3f race which was formally known as the Melling Chase.
Paul Nicholls seized the initiative in the trainers championship and once Nicky Henderson doesn’t win the Grand National it would appear that Nicholls could be crowned champion trainer in the UK once again this season. Politologue can be another valuable winner for the Ditcheat handler.
Politologue ran a blinder at Cheltenham in the Champion Chase over a trip that would appear short of ideal for him. This trip would look ideal for both Min and Politologue.
The Nicholls-trained grey should be more in his comfort zone here having been tried in the King George earlier this season.
Waiting Patiently was ahead of Politologue over 2m5f at Ascot back in February when Cyrname blitzed the field on that occasion and it is on that line of form that the freshest horse in the field is made favourite.
There is no doubt that Waiting Patiently has still got the potential to be improving as his first run of the season was when he unseated Brian Hughes early in the King George and then on what was really his first proper run he followed home the highest rated jumper in training.
That said, Politologue is more battle hardened and the way he finished up the hill at Cheltenham and stayed on to take the silver medal behind Altior was a sound enough effort to trust Politolgoue to win this race for a second year in a row.
Min was back in fifth that day and disappointed at Cheltenham, while Hell’s Kitchen outran his odds to finish fourth and it’ll be interesting to see if he can find another step forward for Harry Fry on this occasion.
Top Notch is only 7lbs off Waiting Patiently, 5lbs below Min and 4lbs below Politologue so at his best he can be competitive here but he skipped the Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup in favour of running in the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham where he finished well down the field behind Paisley Park.
The veteran God’s Own won this race in 2016 and it would be a shock if he’s good enough on this occasion while Woodland Opera is the rank outsider for Jessica Harrington.
*Prices correct at time of publication