James Boyle’s Ante-Post Value – The Amlin Chase
Saturday’s Grade 2 Amlin Chase will have an open look to it should all eleven entrants stand their ground and the market backs that up as it’s a best-priced 3/1 the field at the moment, with two of them battling it out for favouritism. Al Ferof is probably the right starting point given that he’s last year’s winner of this contest and the recent big-race form of Paul Nicholls’ stable is no harm at all.
We haven’t got the see the now 9-year-old grey on-course since he was a below-par fifth in the Ryanair at the Cheltenham festival but his form when fresh is clearly solid and includes a cracking Paddy Power Gold Cup win off a big weight on rotten ground two years ago, so any worries over whether he can be readied to run to his best first time up are not that prevalent on past showings.
Another tilt at the Ryanair is probable as despite hopes of him developing into a King George or Gold Cup type, he doesn’t seem to be half as effective over 3-miles and upwards. The likely test on Saturday will be right up his street but with plenty of the Nicholls runners improving for their first outings, I would be a tad worried as to how far forward he will be at this early stage of the season.
On the other hand, there’ll be no such worries regarding Philip Hobbs’ veteran Wishfull Thinking. The 11-year-old should be on the downgrade rather than the other way around, but he produced a career-best on the figures when running away with the Old Roan Chase at Aintree four weeks ago. There, off a mark of 162, he ran out an impressive 12-length victor and defied odds of 14/1 in the process. I have got no idea where that performance came out of but if he’s able to replicate it here, he’s going to be a huge contender receiving 4lbs from Al Ferof. However, the ground mightn’t be ideal this time, he’s back going right-handed (possible issue?) and at the current quotes of 3/1 I don’t think he’s any worthwhile value.
With just 11st 1lb on his back and in receipt of weight from most of the others, RAJDHANI EXPRESS makes the most appeal at 5/1 and I’m hopeful that he can give the others plenty to think about. The 7-year-old is still young enough to make the improvement needed to see him playing a proper hand in races of this nature and although he’s probably more of a Cheltenham horse than an Ascot horse, everything else looks to be in place as he’ll handle the likely soft ground as well as any and has enough raw speed to handle the track fine.
Things didn’t pan out for him at Aintree when he was set to lock horns with Wishfull Thinking as he was too fresh for his own good, unseated his jockey and then crashed through one of the rails once loose. It wasn’t exactly an ideal first run of the season, nor preparation for a contest like this, but he bounced back from a fall within a couple of weeks when he was a novice and all going well his bravery at the fences won’t be too effected by what happened. If it’s not, I’m very hopeful that he’ll go close and 5/1 looks fair enough for now.
Selection for the Amlin Chase (Saturday, 22nd November; 2:05 Ascot):
Rajdhani Express – 2pts win @ 5/1, generally available.
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