JUMP TO IT ON A CHAMPION CHASING DAY: Shamrock reviews three big Saturday jumps races, with emphasis on the Champion Chase at Down Royal. He landed his nap yesterday, with The Real Article (WON 5-4).

It’s the race with the big CV. Beef Or Salmon, Kauto Star, Taranis, and The Listener have made the last half-dozen Down Royal Champion Chases absolutely top notch.

2.20 Down Royal (Champion Chase) Punters rarely make a mistake, with seven winners in a row at 7-1 or less, four of them favourite. But were they Irish punters?

It’s a rare thing these days, unless you’re talking sprint races on the Flat, but English raiders, notably Paul Nicholls, have dominated this event for four years in succession. After Beef Or Salmon for us, it became a banquet for the raiders.

Today we only have to fend off The Nightingale and Midnight Chase. I say ‘only’? Yes, The Nightingale wasn’t up to the fast-pace jumping at the highest grade in the King George at Kempton, but was an 11-lengths winner of the 2.50 (2m 4f chase) at this meeting last year and goes really well fresh.

Midnight Chase can also do well first time back (form figures after a three-months’ break 10310) but his stable is out of form at the moment.

Neil Mulholland has had only the odd one in the frame in the last fortnight: his most recent runners have started 100-1, 66-1, 40-1, 33-1 (twice), 25-1 and 12-1 twice.

In among those, he’s had two cracks at target, one pulled up, one second in a six-horse race, both favourite. He won’t carry any money of mine on the strength of that. Except as a lay.

Coolcashin and Rare Bob don’t come up to scratch and, though he chased home Kauto Star in this race last year, Sizing Europe is really a two-miler and, anyway, wouldn’t we prefer to see our younger horses rise to this occasion and set themselves up for a champion year.

At seven, Bostons Angel and Quito De La Roque are a world apart in that ‘Quito’ has won his best races at novice level, and has never won at Cheltenham, whereas Bostons Angel stepped up to Group 1 and took on allcomers in the RSA, having beaten ‘Quito’ in the Fort Leney.

Yet ‘Quito’ is 7lb clear in the ratings!

A further difference today is that the Jessica Harrington’s yard is just not firing: missing strike with six placed, no winners, from 15 starters in the last fortnight.

2.25 Sandown In England, Alan King is in good form, and another young horse, Midnight Appeal, takes a further step up. He can be backed each way, with the place return paying back 75% of your win bet as insurance, if he is only placed.

3.20 Wincanton (Badger Ales Chase): Eight Irish-breds, including last year’s winner Meanus Dandy but with Paul Nicholls having a second bullet in the barrel with The Minack, who goes well fresh.

Meanus Dandy has taken a walk out to 12.0 as I write, with The Minack rivaled only in the market by an 11-year-old, Gone To Lunch. Get on The Minack!

NAP: The Minack (3.20 Wincanton)
NEXT BEST: Quito De La Roque (2.20 Down Royal)
DAQ TRIO: Quito De La Roque (2.20 Down Royal), Midnight Appeal (2.25 Sandown), The Minack (3.20 Wincanton)

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