Kim Muir Chase Tips – JP McManus outsider Looks Ideal Type For Glory

A view of the final fence in last year's Kim Muir Handicap Chase.

A view of the final fence in last year’s Kim Muir Handicap Chase.

2021 Kim Muir Chase Tips

One of the amateur riders’ handicaps on day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival is the latest ante-post preview to be analysed by Daniel Overall.

Kim Muir Chase Overview

Another race which may be impacted by restrictions over amateur jockeys, the Kim Muir is perhaps one of the most discussed handicaps of the week with punters looking to find the elusive “Irish Plot”. If amateur jockeys are allowed to ride, it often pays to focus on the top riders (Codd, O’Connor, Mullins et al) who are worth their weight in gold in these types of races.

Made for McManus

JP McManus has a formidable record in this race, as is the case with most of the festival handicaps. With three wins in the last nine renewals, he’s also had a further four hit the frame from sixteen runners.

This year, School Boy Hours would look to have a leading chance. While he is yet to get his head in front in six starts over fences thus far, he has chased home some of Ireland’s leading novice chasers, namely Latest Exhibition and Eklat De Rire; he finished second to both and was only beaten by a combined distance of five-and-a-half lengths. It’s also worth noting that 2019 winner, Any Second Now, had also failed to win over fences prior to winning the Kim Muir, so his lack of chase victories should not be held against him.

With that in mind, his Irish mark of 135 looks lenient and while the British handicapper will have his say, he could still be well treated. Still unexposed over staying trips, the one concern would be his jumping which has often lacked fluency, although there were more positive signs on his last run.

Dickie Diver (20/1) made a very encouraging debut over fences in a high-quality novices’ handicap but novices need to have run a minimum of three times over fences to qualify for this race, which he has not. Another JP horse that is prominent in the market but won’t be able to run here is Minella Times (20/1); rated 144 in Ireland, he was given a mark of 146 for the Grand National, which is above the limit of 145.

After some eyecatching runs over intermediate trips, Time to Get Up delivered on his earlier promise on his most recent start at Wincanton, staying on strongly to win the Dick Hunt Handicap Chase over 3m1f. Raised 8lbs to 138 for that success, that should guarantee him a run here while he is still far from fully exposed. Previously with Joseph O’Brien where he chased home a certain Monkfish in a maiden hurdle, he’s only had six starts under rules and me might just be starting to fulfil his earlier potential now he’s tackling staying handicap chases.

Elliot’s Excellent Record

In the last eight renewals, Gordon Elliott has recorded two victories with a further four hitting the frame from just ten runners. With that in mind, his runners are entitled to plenty of respect. 

This year, Run Wild Fred (8/1) is the early market leader and has been for some time. Like School Boy Hours, he has yet to win over fences in six attempts but he has some creditable efforts to his name, including a second-place finish in the Thyestes off 136 where he chased home his stable mate, Coko Beach. Now rated 140 in Ireland, the British handicapper will have his say which could leave him perilously close to the 145 cut-off, while it would also be concerning that Gordon Elliott has mentioned the Irish Grand National as a possible target. At this stage, there are enough concerns to warrant looking elsewhere, although he would be entitled to plenty of respect were he to line up, as would any horse trained by Gordon Elliott.

Returning Runners

Kilfilum Cross (25/1) has finished second in the last two renewals of this race off 139 and 138 respectively. While he has been out of form this season, he clearly relishes the test that the Kim Muir provides and a bold bid could be expected, especially off his current mark of 135. Now a ten-year-old, his winning chance may have passed him by but it would be no surprise were he to place again.  

Third last year, Bob Mahler is now 5lb lower and he shaped with promise in the Edinburgh National when last seen having pulled-up on his three previous outings. Connections have indicated that they might set their sights a little lower to try and get his head in front instead of returning to Cheltenham so that is worth bearing in mind.  

Plan of Attack (25/1) finished fourth last year having been laid out for the race following a victory at Aintree and a close third in the Paddy Power Chase. He’s been out of sorts so far this season, pulling up on his first two starts but there were more encouraging signs last time out. He’s still only had eight starts over fences and while he will need a career best, a good run is within his remit if rediscovering last season’s form. 

Fifth last year having only had four starts over fences, Deise Aba (25/1) bounced back to form to win at Sandown on his most recent start in first-time cheekpieces. Off the same mark as he was last term, he also won that Sandown handicap before lining up here last year which bodes well, but it remains to be seen if the cheek-pieces will have the same effect second time around. 

Fitzhenry (25/1) stayed on into sixth last year having been closer to last than first on the turn for home. Like last year, he’d be arriving here having finished down the field at the Dublin Racing Festival although his form this season has generally been disappointing. Without a win since February 2018, he’s clearly not the easiest to win with although as a JP owned, Irish trained horse with festival experience, he will be of some interest. 

Other Irish Runners

Longhouse Poet (16/1) has kept good company over fences thus far, beating Run Wild Fred on his most recent start. Rated 142 in Ireland, it will be touch and go as to whether he gets in but connections are seemingly favouring a tilt at the National Hunt Chase instead. Martin Brassil noted that “the further he goes the better he’ll be”, while also implying that he could be a Grand National horse in time, where he’d bid to replicate Numbersixvalverde in winning the Aintree showpiece for the yard. 

At the Acorn (33/1) has threatened to land a big handicap chase and having been campaigned exclusively over hurdles this season, his return to fences is eagerly awaited. Unexposed over the larger obstacles and over staying trips, he’d be interesting if lining up but as he’s only rated 130 in Ireland, there is every possibility that he won’t be high enough in the weights; that was the case last year, so you’d be inclined to wait for the weights to come out or back him NRNB. 

Kim Muir Big-Race Verdict

Preference at this stage is for School Boy Hours who looks to be getting his act together over fences. He has finished ahead of Run Wild Fred twice off level weights so far this season and is likely to get weight from that rival if they both line up here, although it remains to be seen exactly how the British handicapper will assess him. Regardless, he’s going the right way and if his jumping can stand the test, a bold bid seems likely.

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