This game is all about opinions, and one of mine is that they have the betting on the Lexus Chase a little wrong.
You can see why they have made Quito De La Roque favourite, but I am surprised that he is as short as 6/4 and no bigger than 7/4 anywhere, and I expect him to drift closer to race time, as long as all the main players stand their ground.
For starters, there shouldn’t be much between the Gigginstown House horse and Bostons Angel. They were similarly talented novices. On the only occasion on which they met last season, in the Fort Leney Chase, coincidentally, run over the Lexus course and distance on Lexus day last year, Bostons Angel prevailed by three parts of a length. Jessica Harrington’s horse then went and won the Grade 1 Dr PJ Moriarty Chase back at Leopardstown, over an inadequate trip, in February, the day before QDLR won a Grade 2 contest at Naas. Bostons Angel won the RSA Chase at Cheltenham, QDLR won the Grade 2 Mildmay Chase at Aintree. Actually, before QDLR won his first Grade 1 race at Punchestown in May, Bostons Angel was officially rated 2lb superior.
The both debuted this term in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal. The form book says that QDLR won the race while Bostons Angel unseated his rider at the fifth last, but that doesn’t tell the full story. Bostons was actually in front of Colm Murphy’s horse and travelling better when he lost his rider, before QDLR came from what looked an impossible position, helped by the fact that the leaders had gone too fast too early, and got up to mug Sizing Europe and The Nightingale on the run-in.
The other thing that has happened this season is that Bostons Angel has gone to Sandown and finished a disappointing third behind Golan Way and Benbane Head in the Future Stars Chase. Now, because of that, and the Punchestown and Down Royal races, QDLR is officially rated 17lb superior to Bostons Angel. Ergo, he is a much shorter price.
If you can find a reason to forgive Bostons Angel his Sandown run, however, there is a chance that he has been seriously under-rated by the market in allowing him trade at around 12/1 now. The good news is that you can. After his Down Royal unseat, he was effectively making his seasonal debut at the Esher track, and it took him a while to warm to the fences as Golan Way skipped along in front. No prisoners.
Also, Sandown on good to soft ground wouldn’t have suited Bostons Angel at all. Sandown suits pacey fast jumpers who travel strongly and cruise. Bostons Angel is none of those. He is a grinder, a battler, a horse that you want on your side in the trenches. The fences come at you hard and fast down the back straight, it is a rhythm track, and Bostons Angel was never in one. Yet, even given that, he made ground on the run around over the third last, and looked to have manoeuvred himself into a challenging position against all the odds, before his progress halted, possibly because of a lack of peak race fitness, possibly because he figured he had done enough running for that day.
Rider Robbie Power said after the Sandown race that his horse was keeping plenty for himself, and the promised fitting of blinkers for the Lexus is a positive in that regard. He wore blinkers for the first time when he won a hurdle race at Doncaster in January 2010, and he has apparently schooled well in them this week, so all the signs are that the headgear will have a positive effect.
The return to Leopardstown and to soft ground are also significant positives. Bostons Angel has raced at Leopardstown three times, he has won the two Grade 1 chases that he has contested, and he finished a good third at 20/1 in a good bumper in February 2009 on his only other visit there. He obviously loves it there, and there is a good chance that the track, the ground and the distance will combine to bring out the best in him. If they do, he is a big player.
Quito De La Roque is obviously a significant talent with loads of scope to become even more significant. As long as he has recovered from what was a really hard race after a rushed preparation at Down Royal, he should be staying on as well as anything and better than most up Leopardstown’s cruel, grinding hill. However, there just shouldn’t be even nearly as much between him and Bostons Angel in the betting as there is. At the prices, Bostons Angel is a bet, Quito De La Roque isn’t.
I have also backed Rubi Light. The rationale is similar to the rationale for backing him in the John Durkan Chase, combined with the fact that I think that he will stay. He is bred to stay, he is built to stay, he races like he will stay, his trainer thinks that he will stay, his rider thinks that he will stay. All of that suggests that, while you can never know for certain until they try a trip, he is long odds-on to stay. If he does, given his proven class and his still significant potential for progression, he is the most likely winner of the race, and he is still over-priced at around 7/2.
Just have to get through Christmas now. Hope you have a happy one.
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