He ran away with this race last year and went on to prove himself a top-class performer over 2m-2m4f, and I was hugely impressed by him when he beat me on Sub Lieutenant in the Melling Chase at Aintree. He was all class that day. He then went on to beat Un De Sceaux over 2m at Punchestown, and is a horse I am hugely looking forward to getting on in a race. This is no formality at all – he was beaten a head by Special Tiara in the Champion Chase, and there are other up-and-comers in here – but the winner tends to need a race or two to put him straight and my horse won first time out last season. He felt in good form at home on Tuesday and you have to be very hopeful.
He is 7lb higher than when winning the Fred Winter but I think he deserves his new mark. To win any race at the Festival clearly takes a fair bit of doing and there looks to have been a lot of promise in his two starts this autumn. He appeared to run a blinder when fifth in the Cumberland Lodge on the Flat and he shaped very well for a long way when third to London Prize in the Elite last weekend. The return to this stiffer track will suit, he won’t mind it if the ground turns softer, and the more I look, the more I think he has a strong each-way chance.
I don’t know much about him yet to be honest, though I sat on him on Tuesday and he goes well enough. He is related to some decent winners, and hopefully the fact that he is making his racecourse debut here – he hasn’t even run in a point – suggests he is decent. He will need to be to be going close in a race like this, that’s for sure.
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