Top pundit Tony Elves has a strong fancy in the feature at Ascot on Saturday.
I hope I am not misinterpreting the facts but I can’t help but think that SAPHIR DU RHEU is a good thing in the Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot (3.35) this afternoon.
The grey son of Al Namix proved himself to be a top class staying hurdler when beating Reve De Sivola a neck in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January 2015 and went onto finish second to Cole Harden in the Grade 1 World Hurdle on his return to that course at the Festival in March and his return to chasing appeared to have opened the floodgates when he beat Carraig Mor 15 lengths in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices Chases at Aintree in April of that year.
Saphir Du Rheu was widely touted as a future Cheltenham Gold Cup winner after that success and the battleplan appeared to be going just as connections had hope when he sauntered to a seven length win from The Young Master on his reappearance in an Intermediate chase two miles and four furlongs at Carlisle in November of last year. Saphir Du Rheu was sent off the 9-2 favourite for the Hennessy Gold Cup on the strength of that performance but, although running a creditable fifth to Smad Place, the wheels well and truly fell off after. That hardly screams out as must back horse but I have little doubt that Paul Nicholls could not have been so wide of the mark in his initial assessment of the horse who started last season rated 163 over fences and a mark of 152 looks lenient in the extreme.
The money for him this week suggests that those close to the Nicholls camp have waded in big time and although only 4-1 now it could still be a price to get stuck into.
There is decent opposition in the shape of Tea For Three who provided Lizzie Kelly with a Grade 1 success in the Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day but good as the topweight is I could see him as a future Gold Cup winner and we just have to take the chance and give Saphir Du Rheu the nod in the knowledge that his best form was first time out last season from a horse that went onto win the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April. The Paul Nicholls team are in red hot form and let’s hope it’s the bookmakers who get their fingers well and truly burnt. The suggestion is a 4pt win bet and then sit back and enjoy the fireworks.