RACING journalist James Stevens (@JanesStevens180) has been in superb form since joining the WLB stable. He makes his Festival debut for us on Wednesday with the RSA Chase.
Cheltenham 14:10 | RSA Chase | ITV1
Acapella Bourgeois will be tough to beat in Wednesday’s RSA Chase if the expected rain comes over the week. Sandra Hughes’ seven-year-old won by 32 lengths in a Grade Two contest at Navan last time out when upped to three miles and if given the ideal conditions looks the one to beat.
She’s only raced once in Grade One company losing out to Bellshill but that was on good ground, a return to soft would make him the one to beat.
Nicky Henderson has the favourite Might Bite, who ran out an emphatic winner at Doncaster last time out. That was race was much easier, but he was desperately unlucky on his penultimate start when cantering clear in Kempton’s Grade One Kauto Star Novices’ Chase before falling at the last.
With good ground and clear jumping, he is certainly a player. The Lambourn handler also has Whisper whose won both starts since returning from a nine-month break.
The two time Stayers Hurdle winner at Aintree landed the Clipper Novices’ Chase on Cheltenham trials day. This is his toughest test over fences yet.
Willie Mullins’ challenge comes in the form of Bellshill, who fell when last seen at Leopardstown. The seven-year-old, who has won three times at Grade One company, wasn’t in contention when dropping out last time out in Ireland and will need to step up. He certainly has the quality.
Alpha Des Obeaux returns to the racecourse following being pulled-up when last seen in a Grade One Novice contest at Leopardstown in December.
Things didn’t go right for him that day, but he remains a top class prospect whose finished second against some of the best on multiple occasions.
He’s found Arctic Fire and Douvan in Ireland whilst Thistlecrack defeated him in last year’s World Hurdle. He’ll need to be sharp coming back from a break.
Harry Fry’s American is searching his third straight win of the season, after picking up the prize money at Exeter and Market Rasen. However the seven-year-old has only raced once in pattern company finishing sixth.
Colin Tizzard is represented by Royal Vacation, who managed to take the Kauto Star Novices after Might Bite fell at the last. He went on to enjoy and eight length handicap success following his Kempton victory, but he was a long way off the favourite when they last clashed.
But with drying ground at Cheltenham it may just rule Sandra Hughes' Acapella Bourgeois out. I think I'll side with Whisper whose been in tremendous form this season winning twice. He'll like the conditions, and he's got that star quality too.
RSA Chase – Whisper to win (11/2 10BET)