This is obviously a very hot race. Un De Sceaux is the rightful, short-priced favourite after his performance in the Ryanair last time, he is three from three at the track, and the step back down in trip won’t be any hardship for him. But as we saw when I rode Gods’ Own to beat Vautour in this race last season shocks can and do happen at this meeting after a long season, and you shouldn’t forget that Fox Norton is actually rated 2lb higher than Willie’s horse after his incredibly impressive Aintree defeat of Sub Lieutenant over 2m4f at Aintree last time. And this race has plenty of depth with God’s Own returning, but I am certainly not ruling out my horse, Sir Valentino.
Sure, he has a lot to find form-wise if some of these are at their best, but he was giving Special Tiara 6lb when beaten just ½ length in the Desert Orchid at Kempton in December and he ran a great race when third in the Champion Chase last time. In fact, with Douvan struggling, I thought I was going to win 3 out there. In the end, he was beaten just over 6 lengths but it was still a very good effort. And his light season could be very much in his favour here. Cheltenham was his first start since his Kempton win over Christmas, so he comes here a fresh horse, and the Champion Chase run could have actually put him spot on for this. The track is an unknown but going back right-handed won’t be a problem at all and the ground will suit, as will the pace in the race. I definitely give him an each-way chance at around 16/1. And an outside winning one, too.
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