Look to Lough for RSA Gold
Mark Crellin goes through the RSA Chase field and selects Carlingford Lough to make amends for Tony McCoy.
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Trainer: Martin Keighley
Jockey: Ian Popham
Won a Grade 1 event at Kempton on Boxing Day and then came here to run a solid second in a handicap under a big weight.
Each-way squeak but this contest is normally won by a future Cheltenham Gold Cup contender and may not be in that class. Rating 4/10
Trainer: Willie Mullins
Jockey: Ruby Walsh
Likely favourite and that's no surprise as he has won both starts over fences and is very highly-rated by the Mullins/Walsh team who have been known to have a winner or two at this meeting.
Beat Don Cossack without much difficulty last time but made a couple of mistakes in the closing stages and cannot afford to do that in this ultra-competitive contest, so probably one to swerve at a fairly short price. Rating 7/10
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Nick Scholfield
Won his first three over fences and it was very muddy when he got beaten at Warwick last time. One of the highest-rated horses in the field but priced up as if an outsider, so worth an each-way look. Rating 7/10
Trainer: John Kiely
Jockey: AP McCoy
Hardy performer and has already had 13 runs over fences, which will surely stand him in good stead for a race as tough as this.
Beat 21 rivals to land the Galway Plate last July, won a Grade 1 at Leopardstown over Christmas, and was a bit unlucky to unseat last time when set for a good battle with Ballycasey. Lots to like and will surely be thereabouts with Mr McCoy on board. Rating 10/10
Trainer: Donald McCain
Jockey: Richard Johnson
Lovely horse who has won all three of his starts over fences so far, beating Black Thunder last time.
Definite claims but has been making all in small fields and this will be a very different test. No course form either so, somewhat reluctantly, we will look elsewhere. Rating 6/10
Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Jockey: Bryan Cooper
Classy Irish type with a win over Carlingford Lough on his CV but has also been beaten by Ballycasey and Morning Assembly.
However, step up to this trip should be right up his street and all ground seems to come alike so big chance of claiming a place at the very least. Rating 9/10
Trainer: David Pipe
Jockey: Tom Scudamore
Very good over hurdles but pulled-up on only chase start at Ascot in February and remarkable if he can wins this on first completed start over the larger obstacles. Rating 1/10
JUST A PAR
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Noel Fehily
Soft ground against him in his two defeats over fences and showed what he is capable of with a good win at Newbury in between. Ground coming right for him and looks the best of the outsiders. Rating 6/10
Trainer: Emma Lavelle
Jockey: Aidan Coleman
Promising type who is making good progress over fences but seemed to be beaten fair and square by Sam Winner last time and may not be quite up to this. Rating 3/10
Trainer: Oliver Sherwood
Jockey: Leighton Aspell
Has finished second to Black Thunder and O'Faolains Boy this season but impressive at Wetherby in between and looks the type of gritty stayer who often runs well in this race. Each-way chances. Rating 8/10
Trainer: P Fahy
Jockey: Davy Russell
Beat Don Cossack two starts ago and many think he could do best of the Irish team but could not keep Carlingford Lough at bay last time out and may struggle to deal with that one again. Rating 5/10
Trainer: Rebecca Curtis
Jockey: Barry Geraghty
Something of a revelation at Ascot last time and was reportedly amiss when he was pulled-up on his run before that. A case can be made but beat a hasty retreat when fourth in over three miles at this meeting last year. Rating 4/10
Trainer: Nigel Hawke
Jockey: Paul Moloney
Managed to beat Annacotty two starts ago at Chepstow but would need to improve on that here and instead did the opposite last time out, when jumping errors cost him dear. 1/10
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Daryl Jacob
Did well to beat Le Bec here in December and likes decent ground so it was probably a bit heavy when he lost to Smad Place last time. Still only beaten two lengths though and not impossible he could reverse that form. Rating 7/10
Trainer: Alan King
Jockey: Robert Thornton
Set to go off the shortest-priced British runner and has won his last two nicely, having unseated when set to score on chasing debut.
Third-place finishes in the last two runnings of the World Hurdle also enhance his credentials but yet to win a Grade 1 event and faces some potential top-notchers here. Rating 6/10
VERDICT: Something of a confusing race as the Irish contenders look the classiest sorts in the line-up but they have spent the winter taking turns to beat each other.
That said, Carlingford Lough has plausible excuses for his losses and is a very tough nut who may stay on best of all here. Don Cossack is one of many massive dangers and Many Clouds can out-run his price.
1: CARLINGFORD LOUGH
2: Don Cossack
3: Many Clouds