Royal Pagaille got us off the mark for 2022. What a cracking effort carrying top weight to win the race two years running.
We have another handicap chase to get stuck into today with our two selections at opposite ends of the betting market.
Fusil Raffles is enjoying a good season. He was fortunate to win the Charlie Hall chase following the fall of Shan Blue but it was a Grade 2 three mile race. Previously, he chased home Grade 1 winner Bravemansgame and ran well to place fourth in the Racing Post Gold Cup handicap chase at Cheltenham’s December meeting. Fusil Raffles jumping was a bit “sticky” at Cheltenham where it looked like he was flat out under a big weight of 11-7 over 2m4.5f. Nicky Henderson reverts to three miles and Fusil Raffles will love the good ground. Fusil Raffles is a class horse who chased home Chantry House in the Grade 1 Marsh Novices chase at Cheltenham last season. If his jumping remains good, he must have a serious chance despite carrying 11-8. James Bowen takes over riding duties from the injured Daryll Jacob.
Rocco is well overpriced for this race off a low weight of 10-8. Just two runs ago Rocco won the Badger Ales handicap chase (listed) at Wincanton from Potterman. He runs today off just 3lbs higher and will enjoy the good ground. We can forgive him his run at Cheltenham in December where a bad mistake at the second fence and other errors left him out the back. Jordan Nailor rides again like at Wincanton and his 3lbs claim allows Rocco to carry just 10-5 on his back. Storm Control will most likely lead but I’m expecting Rocco to be able to hold a prominent position to give me a good look at the fences. He jumped well at Wincanton and pieces have helped this horse who keeps plenty for himself. At Southwell last May he threw away a race by pulling up in front near the line allowing William Of Orange beat him a head. At a huge price and the bookies offer six places, this outsider looks good value to hit the frame for inform trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.
0.5 Point Each Way Fusil Raffles 6/1 William Hill 6 places else 6/1 unibet & Bet365, both 5 places.
0.5 Point Each Way Rocco 33 Paddy Power, Betfair SB & William Hill, all paying 6 places.