2020 RSA Chase tips – Festival winner to topple the “Champ” at Cheltenham
2020 RSA Tips
We take a look through the betting for this Cheltenham Day 2 race and share our RSA Chase tips in our latest Cheltenham Festival best bets article.
After the Ballymore contenders have opened day two at the Cheltenham Festival, a field of classy novice chasers take to the track in the RSA Novices’ Chase. The greatest National Hunt horse of all time, Arkle came to Cheltenham in 1963 and trounced his rivals in this three-miler. Arkle has since been joined on the roll of honour by fellow future Gold Cup winners Looks Like Trouble, Denman and Bob’s Worth.
I love the RSA. It’s one of my favourite races at the Cheltenham Festival. You’re guaranteed a field of the highest quality, and the race itself never fails to deliver. I’ve taken a look at all of the most likely runners in this year’s renewal and come up with my best 2020 RSA Chase tips.
RSA tips – The Home Challenge
Topping the betting, and by some distance, we find Nicky Henderson’s Champ (7/2 Paddy Power). Runner-up in the Ballymore 12-months ago, Champ has shown flashes of brilliance on all three of his starts over fences. Following a simply success in a novice contest at Newbury, Champ had to fight hard to win the Berkshire Novices’ Chase, battling back down the home straight and surviving a late scare to beat Black Op by a couple of lengths.
Champ was then in the process of thrashing a decent field in the Dipper, leading comfortably coming out of Cleeve Hill. Approaching the second-last with victory seemingly in the bag, Champ’s concentration slipped, he barely lifted his feet off the ground and Barry Geraghty’s mount came crashing to the canvas. Many horses have won at Cheltenham on the back of heavy falls, and that won’t stop Champ featuring on many expert’s lists of day two Cheltenham Festival tips. I, however, have my reservations.
There’s then a decent gap in the betting before we reach the second British challenger on the list. Sam Brown (16/1 William Hill) marked his return from a 750-day absence with a bloodless triumph on his chasing debut at Lingfield. Anthony Honeyball’s eight-year-old then advertised his potential with another excellent display, this time at Haydock, where Sam Brown outstayed his rivals to win the Altcar Novices’ Chase by 15-lengths. Very lightly-raced for his age and a look through his form card suggests Sam Brown has got plenty of ability. He looks a worthy each-way contender.
Announced his intentions for the upcoming campaign with a smooth success at Cheltenham, securing his first victory over fences at the fifth attempt. Slate House (16/1 Ladbrokes) was then heavily backed in the BetVictor Gold Cup, and looked the most likely winner turning for home, only to fall at the second-last flight. Despite only winning a novice contest by half-a-length earlier in the month, Slate House came out on top in the Kauto Star at Kempton, beating Black Op in what looks a fairly weak renewal. Colin Tizzard’s charge was then thoroughly outclassed in the Cotswold Chase, and I fear the same might happen here, considering the quality of the horses ahead of him in the market.
RSA tips – The Raiding Party
Entered last year’s Albert Bartlett as a maiden, having finished fourth and second on his two starts over hurdles. Minella Indo (6/1 Paddy Power) then went on to carry odds of 50/1 to victory that day, before proving it wasn’t a fluke by comfortably beating Allaho to the three-mile Grade One at Punchestown six-weeks later. Rachael Blackmore’s mount was beaten in a test of speed by Laurina on his chasing debut, and had to work much harder than expected to score on his second chase start. I will admit, Minella Indo hasn’t been that impressive this season. But there’s no doubting he has much, much more left to give.
Having beaten Minella Indo to a Grade Three at Clonmel, Allaho (10/1 William Hill) finished third and second to that same rival in big Festival races last spring. Willie Mullins’ charge was then beaten by stablemate, Easy Game on his first start over fences at Leopardstown, the form of which has been boosted since. A simple novice success then followed at Fairyhouse, where Allaho sauntered to victory over a far inferior field. Like Minella Indo, Allaho has much more to offer than what he’s shown so far over fences. He looks to be Willie Mullins’ top contender in this year’s 2020 RSA tips.
Although his jumping left a little to be desired at times, Battleoverdoyen (14/1 Paddy Power) completed a hat-trick of chasing victories in the Neville Hotels at Leopardstown over Christmas. A clash with Faugheen followed at the Dublin Racing Festival, where Davy Russell tried to make the running. Turning for home, Battleoverdoyen was swallowed up by the chasing pack and a tired leap at the second-last saw Gordon Elliott’s charge hit the turf. Battleoverdoyen will be much more comfortable back over three miles and it’s far too early to give up on him. However, Elliott’s charge didn’t enjoy either the flight over to Cheltenham, or the challenges posed by the track 12 months ago. That will worry his supporters more than that Leopardstown tumble.
RSA tips – Overlooked Outsiders
Undoubtedly the story of the season so far. The ever-green Faugheen (14/1 Unibet) has proved a revelation over fences. Winning Grade Ones at Limerick and at the Dublin Racing Festival. The Marsh Novices’ Chase looks Faugheen’s most likely target at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival tips. Especially with Allaho sitting so prominently in the betting. Yet, if Mullins’ decided Faugheen needed three miles at Cheltenham, it’s possible the two could be switched.
Defeats in the Drinmore and to Faugheen at Limerick have thrown Samcro’s (20/1 Unibet) Cheltenham plans into disarray. Another clash with Faugheen in the Marsh looks his most likely assignment. Elliott did say earlier in the season that it may be time for Samcro to step up to three miles. However, I think there’s more chance of the former Ballymore winner dropping into the Arkle, than stepping up in the RSA.
Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old jumped well when finishing a close second to Deyrann De Carjac on his first start over two-and-a-half-miles. Pym (25/1 William Hill) has really built on that showing, making excellent progress as he’s been stepped up in trip. A snug three-length victory at Ascot was followed by an easy triumph at Cheltenham, where Pym saw off Imperial Aura by eight lengths. I thought a run in the National Hunt Chase was in the offing, but this is Pym’s only Cheltenham entry and I think he could be a lurking danger in the 2020 RSA Chase betting.
Failed to take to fences last year, and was switched back to hurdles in time for the Festival. Black Op (20/1 Ladbrokes) has been much more convincing during his second season as a novice, running up to a high-level on all three of his starts. Tom George’s star narrowly lost out to Champ at Newbury, and again to Slate House in the Kauto Star. I’m not convinced that he’s a horse of genuine Grade One quality. Yet, he’s a consistent plodder who could catch a place if some of the big guns underperform.
RSA tips – Look At The Odds
Bounded into Cheltenham Festival contention at Newbury, beating Reserve Tank in the John Francombe on his first start over fences. Danny Whizzbang (33/1 William Hill) was then unlucky at Kempton, where he was hampered by the falling Master Tommytucker. His 18-length defeat that day cannot be taken a face-value. Yet, I don’t think Danny Whizzbang was going that well before he was forced to hurdle his stablemate. While he remains open to improvement, there are better each-way options here.
Clearly very highly-regarded by connections. Master Tommytucker (33/1 Unibet) was thrown straight into a Listed race on his first start over fences last season. A fall there was followed by a 13-month absence, after which Paul Nicholls’ charge ground out a narrow victory on his return to action. Harry Cobden’s mount was going well at the front in the Kauto Star before that untimely fall. He still has questions to answer surrounding his stamina, though. Cheltenham remains a complete unknown too.
Ended life over hurdles with a decent handicap victory off 116. Since moving to chasing, Copperhead (33/1 William Hill) has progressed at a fantastic rate, and goes into Cheltenham having won the Mandarin Handicap with 11-11 on his back. Colin Tizzard could pitch Copperhead into the 2020 RSA Chase alongside Slate House. However, a career-high mark of 145 would put him perfectly in the picture for the Kim Muir. I think that will be his 2020 Cheltenham Festival objective.
Two For Gold
It’s quite surprising to see Two For Gold (33/1 Ladbrokes) sitting so far down the betting. Kim Bailey’s charge is unbeaten in three starts over fences, and was last seen snatching a narrow victory in a Grade Two at Warwick. While he won’t feature as one of my 2020 RSA Chase tips – as I think he’ll run in the National Hunt Chase – but I still think Two For Gold has been a little underestimated.
RSA tips – Verdict
It’s clear Champ has bundles of quality and he’s bound to improve with the step up in trip. If the RSA Chase was run on a flat-track like Aintree or Newbury, with a long run to the line, I wouldn’t be confident taking Champ on. Cheltenham, however, poses a different challenge.
At Newbury, Champ has the time and space to shift through the gears and make up any deficit he may face down the home straight. On the Old Course at Cheltenham, the final two fences come at you thick and fast, and the run to the line is fairly short. Champ struggled to assert in the Ballymore 12 months ago, and that fall in the Dipper hasn’t done anything to dissuade me from the idea that Cheltenham isn’t Champ’s kind of track. I have no interest in backing Champ at 7/2.
Although Allaho remains a looming danger, I identified MINELLA INDO as a great 2020 RSA tip at the start of the season and I’m perfectly happy to stick with my ante-post selection.
The Albert Bartlett is such a long, hard, slog of a race, that it often takes entrants many months to recover. Some are never the same again. Minella Indo, on the other hand, returned to action just six weeks after carrying odds of 50/1 into the winners’ enclosure at Prestbury Park and looked as fresh as a daisy, defeating Allaho and Carefully Selected in the Grade One Irish Daily Mirror Hurdle at Punchestown.
Minella Indo hasn’t sparkled on either of his starts over fences so far, but he’s jumped like a natural on both occasions. De Bromhead’s charge ran a blinder after two similar prep-runs last season, and I’m sure Rachael Blackmore’s mount will be primed to produce his best when he makes his triumphant return to the Cheltenham Festival next month. Minella Indo looks the most likely winner.
I’m also going to back PYM at an each-way price. I‘ve been really taken with the way Nicky Henderson’s charge has improved with each of his starts over fences, and he brings valuable course form to the table.
Pym is rated just one-pound short of the 153-mark Santini finished second with in last year’s RSA. Champ is only rated one-pound superior to Pym at this stage, so to see the discrepancy between the stablemates in the betting is surprising. Of those sitting on each-way prices, Pym holds the most appeal and he’ll be the second of my 2020 RSA tips.