He was a decent, mid-80s rated, middle-distance handicapper when trained in England last year and he shaped pretty well for me on his hurdling debut at Navan earlier in the month. He was entitled to need that and get a bit tired after such a long lay-off there, so I would hope and expect that there would be a fair bit more to come from him.
He had a bit of a reputation when at Willie’s last season but he went off the boil after showing a lot of promise earlier in the campaign. But Henry looks to have got him back on track on the evidence of his excellent second to a well-regarded sort in American Tom over 2m at Punchestown on his chasing debut earlier this month. It rode like a very good race. This extra 3f will suit him a lot better, too – he has won over 3m – so you have to be positive about his chances, for all this is a very competitive race, as so many of these Beginners Chases are.
He clearly looks to face a very stiff task here against the likes of Vroum Vroum Mag and Clondaw Warrior. He was a very smart hurdler a couple of seasons ago, finishing a narrow second in the Albert Bartlett, and would have been entitled to need his comeback run at Navan last month. But he finished very well-beaten there off a mark of 146 and he would have had to have made massive strides in the last month to be competitive here.
This race will obviously take a lot of winning but I would be pretty confident of a bold show from Valseur Lido. He looks very solid. He looked sure to win here in February when unseating Ruby at the last and then he went to Cheltenham and ran an excellent race to finish a staying-on second to Vautour in the Ryanair. He had probably had enough for the season when slightly below-par at Sandown but he looked as good as ever in the Jnwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on his comeback. I wasn’t on him that day but to beat Silviniaco Conti – and Paul Nicholls reckons he had the King George third spot-on there – by 11 lengths, coasting home, was a very impressive performance. He has been in great form at Henry’s and I go into the race expecting a big run, for all this is a proper Grade 1 contest with plenty of depth. In fact, besides the likes of Djakadam (who may prefer easier ground than he is likely to get here), Gigginstown are represented by the last two winners of this race in Don Poli and Road To Riches (I was fortunate enough to win on both) – as well as Outlander and Wounded Warrior – so it is not a big price that I have chosen wrong from our five. But such are Valseur Lido’s credentials it was a pretty straightforward choice, in truth.