The final Group 1 race of the season, the Racing Post Trophy, takes place at Doncaster on Saturday but, given the high percentage of winning favourites in recent years, we’ve decided to look a little further afield for this week’s selections. Over at Aintree, the Betfred Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase features a dozen runners, only two of whom have run recently, so it’s the sort of race that could throw up a surprise winner.
Viva Colonia (33/1) is 4lb out of the handicap proper but, even so, is still only 4lb higher in the weights than when third, beaten 2½ lengths, in this race last year. That form entitles him, once again, to beat the fourth, Mr Moonshine, the sixth, Wishfull Thinking, and the seventh, Edgardo Sol and he should be fairly straight, having had a spin on the Flat at Newcastle earlier this month. He hasn’t won for a while and a drop of rain probably wouldn’t hurt his chance, but that’s all factored into his price and his chance is, perhaps, not quite as forlorn as the bookmakers would have you believe.
Fellow ‘rag’ Lucky William (25/1) was a Grade 1 winner over fences at Punchestown at the end of the 2011/12 season, but wasn’t seen again until finishing last of eight, beaten 65 lengths, behind Simenon, over hurdles at Tipperary in July. Thomas Cooper’s 10-year-old got no further than the third fence when sent back over the larger obstacles in the Grade 2 PWC Champion Chase at Punchestown three weeks ago, but it’s interesting that connections are persevering with him and he’s a rare runner on this side of the Irish Sea for the Co. Kerry trainer.
Bold Sir Brian (20/1) was mooted as a possible Cheltenham Gold Cup contender after winning the Sportingbet Future Stars Chase at Sandown during the 2012/13 season, but his form tailed off afterwards and he returns from an absence of 554 days. He’s clearly had his problems, but he’s dropped 6lb in the weights and it’s worth remembering that subsequent Hennessy Gold Cup winner Triolo D’Alene (rec. 2lb) could finish only third, beaten 19 lengths, at Sandown. Obviously, the case for him is by no means watertight, but he’s won after a break several times in the past and it’s probably too soon to be writing him off just yet.
The Old Roan Chase promises, as usual, to be a fascinating and informative contest, but our three against the field this week are, in no particular order, Viva Colonia (33/1 generally available), Lucky William (25/1 generally available) and Bold Sir Brian (a standout 20/1 with Paddy Power. If those three happen to fill the first places, it might be a little while until you hear from us again! Good luck!!