Gold Cup dark horse Alary to put credentials to the test
Peter Marsh Handicap Chase | 3m24y, 5yo+ | Grade 2 | ITV4/RUK
Many of the trainers represented in Saturday's Peter Marsh Chase believe the race revolves around whether Alary truly is a horse worthy of being considered a proper Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.
So, too, you sense, does Alary's trainer.
Colin Tizzard approaches the British debut of his exciting French import, bought for presumably big money by Ann and Alan Potts, as much in the dark as everyone else.
On his most recent outing Alary finished a close second to Milord Thomas in Auteuil's Prix la Haye Jousselin, the second most important chase in France. That effort earned the seven-year-old a Racing Post Rating of 158. He runs on Saturday afternoon off a BHA mark of 162.
Alary is a best price of 25-1 for the Gold Cup, and only three British-trained hopefuls are above him in the market. They are the odds-on Thistlecrack - due to appear at Cheltenham next week - Native River and Cue Card. Like Alary, they are all trained by Tizzard.
Gold Cup entries are also held by the next two horses in the Peter Marsh weights, Sausalito Sunrise and Bristol De Mai. The latter could well challenge Alary for favouritism in this race, but so could Definitly Red, who was so impressive when winning the Rowland Meyrick Chase on Boxing Day.
An encore to the Rehearsal
Five of these filled the first six places in Newcastle's Rehearsal Chase in November. The winner on that occasion was Otago Trail with Bristol De Mai in second, Definitly Red third, Bishops Road fourth and Virak sixth. Since then Otago Trail has been pulled up in Ireland and Bishops Road finished tenth in the Coral Welsh Grand National but Definitly Red won readily at Wetherby.
A return to form for the Peter Marsh Chase
The Peter Marsh was once a regular haunt for Gold Cup-class chasers but it has gone through some lean years, while its first prize of £28,475 is much less than the £42,765 The Outlier won ten years ago. This, however, is a cracking renewal with Alary's presence giving the race a major boost.
What they say
What they say
Colin Tizzard, trainer of Alary
I think it's a very big question we're asking him but it's either run in this or ask him to take on Thistlecrack, Native River or Cue Card in a conditions race. We're on a learning curve with him but he works nicely and has schooled well. I'm looking forward to it.
Grahame Whateley, owner of Sausalito Sunrise
It's about time he ran a good race. Nothing has come to light for his two runs this season but we're hoping for better this time and Tom O'Brien, who was on when he won so well at Ascot, is back on board.
Anthony Bromley, racing manager to Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, owners of Bristol de Mai
This is a bit of a fact-finding mission to see if we stick at three miles or go back in trip with him. I know Nigel Twiston-Davies is happy with the horse and we've always thought he was up to this level.
Brian Ellison, trainer of Definitly Red
He was impressive last time and is going there in good form. I tend to think he is better on good to soft, but he's won on heavy, so I couldn't be giving the ground as an excuse.
Paul Nicholls, trainer of Virak
He's been a little out of form this season. He's paying the price for his consistency last season. He'll like the ground and always runs well at Haydock.
Kerry Lee, trainer of Bishops Road
He meets some of the horses who beat him in the Rehearsal on better terms and I think he's a better horse than he was at Newcastle. He came out of the Welsh National bouncing, so it's all systems go.
Tom George, trainer of O Maonlai
He's good. Throughout his career we've seen some very good and some not so very good performances. The thing that stands out is he needs a good gap in between each run, so that's what we've done this season. He'll love the ground and a flat track. This has been the target since he won at Newbury.
Evan Williams, trainer of Firebird Flyer
He ran a great race in the Welsh National but he was smoked by a Gold Cup horse in Native River and I think we could be smoked by another in Alary, who I'm looking forward to seeing. Our old horse has done his winning but we'll try to pick up some pieces.
Sue Smith, trainer of Vintage Clouds
He is a novice but we don't have many opportunities for him over three miles in the north. It looks like he has to step up on what he has done so far but the ground should suit him. Really, the race depends on the top horse. We all need to find out about Alary.
All you need to know about Colin Tizzard's new import
- Regis Schmidlin, the jockey who rode him in 16 of his 20 races in France, calls him “out of the ordinary”.
- Francois-Marie Cottin, his former trainer, describes him as “certainly one of the best horses I have trained”.
- Colin Tizzard has seen enough of him on the Dorset gallops to opine “he’s a bloody good horse”.
- Judged on all the Gold Cup talk, some may be surprised to learn Alary has won only two of his 20 career starts.
- The seven-year-old has never raced on ground without the words ‘soft’ or ‘heavy’ in the official description.
- Stamina appears to be his forte – ideal for a Gold Cup – as he finished third over 3m6f at Auteuil last May.