Lord Windermere Looks Royal For Lexus Chase
Sunday’s Grade 1 Lexus Chase at Leopardstown (2.55) is shaping up to be an absolute belter, featuring last year’s winner, the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner and April’s Punchestown Gold Cup winner.
Last year’s Lexus Chase winner was a of course Bobs Worth, who also won the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup, but failed to defend his crown when last seen in March, managing only fifth. There was a suspicion something was amiss with Nicky Henderson’s runner that day, and he has something to prove on this reappearance.
Indeed, the last 10 Lexus winners had all experienced a recent run, which could count against Bobs Worth in the crucial stages…
Of the last 10 Lexus Chase winners…
10 returned 8/1 or shorter
10 ran during the last 21-45 days (25%) – others were 0-42
9 ran over 3m or further last time out
9 were non-winners last time out
8 won over 3m
8 won 46% or more of their career chases
8 arrived via Haydock or Newbury
7 had yet to run at Leopardstown (33%) – others were 3-61 (5%)
P Nicholls won it three times, Jonjo O’Neill twice
One who does line-up with good recent form is the current Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Lord Windermere (5/1), who was only 5l behind Don Cossack in the Punchestown Chase three weeks ago (2m4f, yielding). Jim Culloty’s 8yo made good late progress while blowing the cobwebs away that day, and will be cherry-ripe for Sunday.
Just in front of Lord Windermere at Punchestown was Willie Mullins’ 9yo, Boston Bob (4/1), who won over this 3m trip when landing the Punchestown Gold Cup last spring (yielding). Unbeaten in two outings at Leopardstown, including a Grade 1 novice chase almost two years ago, he handles conditions and has to be considered a serious player if running on Sunday.
Respect also has to go to Paul Nicholls’, Sam Winner (7/1), as the canny trainer is enjoying a terrific season in the big events, and has won this race three times since 2004.
His improving 7yo may only be 3-9 over fences, but his last two back-to-back wins have seen improvement, including a Grade 3 win at Cheltenham last month (3m2f, soft). While further progress is required at the highest level, Nicholls wouldn’t be pitching him in if not capable, and he may shake-up the market leaders.
Road To Riches
Another of the upcoming chasers out to test himself against the big guns is Noel Meade’s, Road To Riches (6/1), a chaser with a record of 4-9 having won the Grade 1 Champion Chase at Down Royal by 57 days ago (3m, yielding). Of all the domestic runners, he is officially rated the highest in the race, and having won by 11l last time, has nothing to fear.
Of the remainder, Carlingford Lough has to be of interest from an each-way perspective (10/1), having been a dual Grade 1 novice winner last term, and it will be interesting to see if there is market support on this seasonal return.
Surprisingly, only one of the last Lexus winners actually lined-up having won last time out, which bodes well for Lord Windermere, who was third on his return three weeks ago and should be 100% for this assignment.