A quick glance at the roll of honour for this valuable early-season prize suggests only potentially top class horses need apply, so with that in mind, IRISH CAVALIER (best price 10/1) makes quite a bit of appeal in this year’s renewal having already shown plenty of quality since switching his attention to fences. A cracking beginning to first season as a chaser culminated with Rebecca Curtis’ charge capturing the big novices’ handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival back in March and he rounded off the campaign with another solid effort in a similar contest at the Punchestown version.
The son of Aussie Rules made a bright start to his second season over fences when winning with more in hand than the official margin suggested in a keenly-contested and strongly-run conditions event at Newton Abbot and with the well-beaten third that day, Art Mauresque, going on to frank the form with a win at Cheltenham on his next outing, the race down in the West Country looks a totally believable one.
Although raised a further five pounds to a perch of 156, that mark is by no means an insurmountable one (Al Ferof won off 159 two years ago) and that fact that connections had contemplated running the six-year-old grey in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby a few weeks ago, suggest they feel he’s not far off top class. Although he has fallen once in his eight starts over fences, he’s usually a sound jumper and having proven that Prestbury Park suits his style of running on more than one occasion, this improving and likable grey, who seems to act on most ground, has all the hallmarks of a typical winner of this race.