Rocky Creek The Right Bet For Champion Chase
The jumps season takes another step forward on Saturday when the Grade 1 Champion Chase over 3m re-unites some old favourites at Down Royal (2.30).
With the likes of Boston Bob (3/1) and On His Own (9/1) in the line-up, punters will have the chance to back some of the most familiar names on the Irish National Hunt scene, although it is an upcoming British raider who heads the betting on 2/1 – namely Nicky Henderson’s, Ma Filleule.
This 6yo comes here having enjoyed a stellar season last time around, culminating in a career best victory in the Grade 3 Topham Handicap Chase at Aintree (2m5f, good). Prior to that, Ma Filleule was a close runner-up in a Grade 3 handicap chase at Cheltenham (3m, good to soft), and another step up here could see him thereabouts.
It will need to be a big step,
however, as there will be some proven Grade 1 performers in attendance, including the 9yo, Boston Bob, who signed off last season with two Grade 1 victories – the second of which was the Punchestown Gold Cup (3m1f, good). He slammed First Lieutenant by over 3l that day, and having won on his seasonal reappearance for the last two seasons, looks sure to be ready for this assignment.
But for backers relying on past trends, then it may actually prove best avoiding those who won last time out…
Of the last 10 Champion Chase winners (abandoned in 2005)…
9 returned 8/1 or shorter – others were 1-28
9 were non-winners last time – winners were 1-16
9 didn’t wear any headgear (17%) – others were 1-13 (8%)
6 ran at Aintree (4-5) or Punchestown (2-16) last time
6 were French-breds (6-13, 46%) – Irish-breds were 4-49 (8%)
P Nicholls won it four times (4-7)
6yo’s have the best record at 2-3
It’s amazing to think that only one of the last 10 Champion Chase winners won prior to Down Royal, which may count against both Boston Bob and Don Cossack (7/1), who warmed up for this with an easy Grade 3 win at Punchestown two weeks ago (2m7f, good to firm). Don Cossack’s chance will improve if the ground dries out, and with his trainer, Gordon Elliott, stating that he is an improved performer this time around, then his chance must be respected.
One who didn’t win last time out was Paul Nicholls’ 6yo, Rocky Creek (3/1), who was last seen finishing fifth (beaten 19l) in the Grand National at Aintree (4m4f, good to soft).
Runner-up in Newbury’s Hennessy Gold Cup (3m2f, good), he has a Grade 2 win under his belt and looks sure to improve this term for a trainer who has won this race four times.
Elsewhere, Road To Riches (7/2) is another of the leading fancies having won the Galway Plate this summer (2m6f, good), and showed he is ready for this level of company when beaten only a head by the mighty, Sizing Europe recently. Road To Riches will also have fitness on his side and Saturday will be a revealing test.
Of the remainder, Lyreen Legend is not the most attractive of 6/1 shots having lost his last nine races, while Tammys Hill (12/1) boasts flashy form-figures of 21311, but will encounter a big rise from hunter chases.
With Paul Nicholls boasting a remarkable 4 victories from just 5 runners since 2004, Rocky Creek has to be fancied to go well and has the scope to improve this season.