20-1 Escape looks the perfect type for National Hunt Chase
National Hunt Chase, Cheltenham March 13
1pt win at 20-1 generally
This year’s Ladbrokes Trophy was a race to savour as Total Recall wore down the gutsy Whisper after a superb ride from Paul Townend, earning a Gold Cup quote in the process.
As good a performance as it was, Willie Mullins’ improving eight-year-old is going to have to improve another 10lb to even be in with a chance in the Gold Cup. Arguably it was Whisper who emerged as the more likely contender after giving 14lb to the winner.
There is certainly some each-way value in the 25-1 available with Coral about Whisper in the Gold Cup, but the one who emerged from the Ladbrokes Trophy with the most credit was Might Bite. He has twice beaten Whisper and beat Alpha Des Obeaux, who was second to Total Recall in the Munster National, out of sight in last season’s RSA.
Having already put up Nicky Henderson’s star to win the King George and Gold Cup at 14-1 there is no need to play again and, after Thistlecrack’s laboured return, he looks the one to beat at Kempton.
The Ladbrokes Trophy was not the only big race at the weekend, and Buveur D’Air, Apple’s Jade and Mengli Khan all laid down their festival credentials with Grade 1 victories, but the horse who has perhaps gone under the radar is Elegant Escape, who got off the mark over fences in the Grade 2 novice chase at Newbury on Saturday.
Colin Tizzard’s five-year-old has improved no end for the switch to fences and has proved a superb jumper in his three starts.
After beating Cheltenham winner Black Corton by three-quarters of a length in a race won by stablemates Thistlecrack and Native River in the last two seasons, he earned quotes for the RSA and National Hunt Chase.
He is clearly going in the right direction but might lack the class for the RSA and, given how he jumps and how strongly he stays, the four-mile National Hunt Chase, for which he is 20-1 generally, looks tailor-made.
He has a similar profile to Native River, who was second to Minella Rocco in the 2016 National Hunt Chase, and connections may follow a similar path to Cheltenham.
There is always a bit of guesswork when trying to fathom which race a novice chaser is going to run in, but his price more than reflects that and the four-miler looks his most likely target.
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