We have a cracking race in prospect here on day one of the Grand National Festival. The Red Rum Chase is a two-mile handicap worth some £42,000 to the winner, something which has helped us achieve a maximum field.
That 18-runner line-up makes the race hard to whittle down, but having left out the well-backed Destrier who simply looks out of form, we reckon these six stand out:
Owner JP McManus has several chances in this race, the best of them arguably coming with Dostal Phil.
Philip Hobbs’ runner has only had three outings over fences to date, but that shouldn’t matter too much around Aintree on the Mildmay and he’s certainly one who seems capable of plenty of improvement.
A beaten favourite last time out at Sandown, he doesn’t appear to be overly ground dependant and while many expected better in Berkshire, he ran a very solid race in second place and is coming along just nicely.
Editeur Du Gite
Gary Moore’s seven-year-old has been largely consistent so far in his chase career, his best performance crucially coming last time out when he won nicely over two miles at Newbury.
He did reach a new level there and it’s not for us to say it was a one-off, so even considering his 7lb rise in the weights he looks well enough handicapped to run very well here again, assuming the weather doesn’t turn completely against him.
We’ve written before about what we see as a real resurgence from Venetia Williams, and while some may feel that’s unfair, she really is hitting levels we’ve not seen from her in recent years.
Another potential flagbearer for the yard is this Frero Banbou. Only a six-year-old, this gelding is loving going chasing having shown nothing much of note over hurdles and is now three from five over the larger obstacles.
The highlight of his profile is a two-mile win which he achieved at Sandown last month, a success gained in the very easiest of fashion.
He’s gone up plenty in the weights for his nine-length win, however his new handicap mark only reflects how far ahead he was at the line last time and doesn’t take into consideration how much he had left under the bonnet, nor how much he may now improve.
A solid-looking favourite, Paul Nicholls’ eight-year-old has run very well in an Arkle trial before and landed a race nicely at Fakenham.
He reached a peak last time out however when comfortably winning over this trip at Doncaster, the quandary for punters being how to read his handicap mark.
On the one hand, he began his chase career in October 2019 being rated 155 and he is in this handicap off just 149. However, he won by six lengths last time, well enough admittedly, off a mark of only 140 and on that alone a 9lb rise wouldn’t put him in the ‘well-handicapped’ category.
This is a fascinating contender. Flat-bred but brilliantly so by Authorized, Joke Dancer is trained by Sue Smith whose horses are so very often under bet and underestimated.
Having won at Haydock and Warwick last season as well as Wetherby this term, he has reached consistent levels when at his best and while that’s a good thing, he’ll naturally need to improve some to win this race off his current handicap mark.
That improvement could well be forthcoming however and he rates fairly highly on our list.
Sully D’Oc AA
Another for JP McManus, this one is trained by Anthony Honeyball. Sully D’Oc AA has been well fancied before, notably for a good 2½-mile handicap chase at Newbury in November having won at Ascot before that.
His form reads well, but he’s earned precious little in nine chase races to date and needs to take a fair step forward to actually win.
Getaway Trump should be well backed and may well run up to expectation, while Dostal Phil is of interest and Editeur Du Gite holds a place chance as well.
The one we like best is the horse with the most potential improvement and that is Venetia Williams’ FRERO BANBOU.
It would appear the wind operation he had has benefitted him greatly, and he is nowhere near his peak over fences. He could be very well handicapped for this under Charlie Deutsch despite his recent rise in the weights and gets the nod to land the Red Rum.