Clarence House Chase Preview

Clarence House Chase 13.45 Cheltenham
2m 62 yards (Grade 1) (CLASS 1) (5yo+)

This Grade 1 chase is usually held at Ascot, but it will be run at Cheltenham this year after the original meeting fell victim to the weather. Six of the last eight favourites have won, including last year’s victor Un De Sceaux who scored at odds of 1/2.

No winner has been priced bigger than 9/2 since 2009, and it has paid to concentrate on the more fancied horses. Un De Sceaux is a warm order to defend his crown this season for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. The 2015 winner Dodging Bullets also takes his chance, and 7 are due to go to post.

DODGING BULLETS
Paul Nicholls/Nick Schofield
Odds: 25/1 Paddy Power

This 9yo son of Dubawi, rated 157, won this race back in 2015 and went on to win the Champion Chase at the festival. His trainer, Paul Nicholls, won this race for the first time in 1999 with Equiname, and he is the leading trainer with five wins in total. Dodging Bullets hasn’t won since that Champion Chase success, and he was well beaten behind Josses Hill at Huntingdon last time.

That run came over 20f and, as his form shows, that is a trip that stretches him. Dropping back to 2 miles will suit, as will returning to Cheltenham. However, it would take a big leap of faith to fancy him for this, and minor prize money is likely the best he can hope for. His odds of 25/1 look justified in a hot looking race.

EASTLAKE
Jonjo O’Neill/Wayne Hutchinson
Odds: 50/1 Ladbrokes

This 11yo son of Beneficial was last sighted scoring in a class 2 handicap over course and distance back in December. The handicapper put him up to a mark of 154 for that win, and that leaves him with a fair bit to find with some of these.

Jonjo O’Neill has yet to taste success in this race, and it is hard to see this fella changing that. It is pretty late in his career to have a first crack at Grade 1 level, and it is hard to see him hitting the frame at odds of 50/1.

ROYAL REGATTA
Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson
Odds: 33/1 Sportingbet

This 9yo son of King’s Theatre picked up his first graded win in a Grade 2 chase at Ascot last time. That win came over 21f, but he is also effective at Saturday’s trip of 16f. He earned an official rating of 158 for that gutsy success, and he will ensure that this race is run at a good clip.

His last two wins have come at Ascot, and if this race was being run there he would be easier to fancy. However, he has run stinkers on three previous visits to Cheltenham, and his current odds of 33/1 look just about right.

SPECIAL TIARA
Henry De Bromhead/Noel Fehily
Odds: 9/2 Coral

This son of Kayf Tara is a joy to watch in full flight, but he will face some competition for the lead on Saturday. Henry De Bromhead’s 10yo was an excellent 3rd here in the Champion Chase last season, and he loves decent ground. He is a dual Grade 1 winner and he scored by half a length in a Grade 2 at Kempton last time.

He has an official rating of 165, the second highest in the field. If Un De Sceaux doesn’t show up in peak form, this spectacular jumper could be the one to benefit. He has only been out of the first three once on his four previous visits to Cheltenham. If the ground stays decent, he will likely make a bold bid from the front at odds of 9/2 with Coral.

TOP GAMBLE
Kerry Lee/Davy Russell
Odds: 12/1 BetVictor

Kerry Lee is a trainer that has already made her mark after taking over from her Dad. She has a high quality horse in Top Gamble, a 159 rated chaser who has won a trio of Grade 1s on ground ranging from good to soft. His last win came at Fairyhouse last March when he hosed up by 7L on yielding ground in a Grade 2 Novices’ Chase.

He has had only a couple of runs this season, and he should be approaching peak fitness. Both those runs came here, and he ran a lot better last time over 21f when 3rd in a handicap off 159. He looks well worth a crack in Grade 1 company, but he would have a better chance if the heavens opened. If the forecast rain arrives, he could be worth an each way bet at odds of 12/1 with BetVictor.

UN DE SCEAUX
Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh
Odds: 8/15 Skybet

This 9yo son of Denham Red is a serious animal on his day and his official rating of 169 is the best in the field. He won this race last season before going on to chase home Sprinter Sacre in the Champion Chase at the festival. He has an astonishing strike rate, winning 16 of 21 starts including five Grade 1s. Good to soft ground is ideal for him, but he wouldn’t mind a drop of rain either.

He has had just the one start this season and he beat Sire De Grugy by a length in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek at Sandown (15.5f). It was a workmanlike performance, but he should be a lot fitter with that run behind him. On the figures Un De Sceaux looks to have plenty in hand, and he is justifiably a short price at odds of 8/15 with Skybet.

UXIZANDRE
Alan King/Barry Geraghty
Odds: 16/1 Paddy Power

This 9yo son of Fragrant Mix hasn’t been sighted since hacking up here in the Ryanair back in 2014. His form figures from three runs at Cheltenham read 211, so he obviously relishes the track. He has won at 16f here, but his best form is at around 21f. He hasn’t run for 688 days, so his fitness has to be taken on trust.

He has form on good and soft, but he wouldn’t want to see too much rain. He has an official mark of 160, and that leaves him with a fair bit to find with the favourite. Alan King can get one ready, but this looks a tough assignment after such a long lay-off. At odds of 16/1 with Paddy Power he is probably best watched.

 

CONCLUSION

Un De Sceaux is impossible to oppose in this Grade 1 chase. He won it last year at Ascot, and he won’t mind that it has been switched to Cheltenham this year. He won’t mind what the weather does, and that doesn’t apply to his main market rival Special Tiara.

If the rain does arrive (as is forecast) one horse that could outrun his odds is Kerry Lee’s Top Gamble. This dual Grade 2 winner has course form, he won’t mind the trip and he will be suited by a fast run race, which looks a likely scenario. At odds of 12/1 he represents a bit of value against the favourite and he could reward each way support.

VERDICT: 1. UN DE SCEAUX 2. TOP GAMBLE 3. SPECIAL TIARA