At this stage of the National Hunt season, there’s an innate longing among all racing fans for the Cheltenham Festival. A mix of anticipation and fear that is quite exhilarating. A nameless individual at Paddy Power Towers even starts his morning at this time of year by rolling out a carpet and praying on his knees in the direction of Prestbury Park. A mix of hallucinogenic pills mixed with Nescafe could be blamed for this behaviour, but it wouldn’t be true. It might be something you’d see on the re-launched Morning Line. But it still wouldn’t be the worst thing you can see on Channel 4 given their appetite for Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and electrocuted horses. Not to mention Tanya Stevenson’s new haircut.
Anyway, while the racing in the run up to the Festival is good, it’s like having a deep-fried Mars Bar as an h’orderve before a Lobster main course. It doesn’t feel right or even taste that great, but it will do till the main comes along. That’s not a disparaging analogy about the Racing Post Chase, it’s just a fact of equine life due to where it sits in the jumps calendar.
Another consideration is that not all horses can handle the track at Cheltenham and the Grade 3 Handicap at Kempton is an astute choice for those Cheltenham Hill-fearing runners who know they wouldn’t have a chance of competing in March.
Having scoured through the 17 runner field for the Racing Post Chase, a number of horses have solid claims which highlights the race’s competitiveness. Quinz’s run behind Time For Rupert could prove to be a great form line, but’s not something you can give much credence to given the distance. Watching graceful grey Nacarat striding to victory would be incredible, but he’ll need a mammoth performance off top weight to land the spoils for Tom George.
“It’s the race we mentioned almost straight after Ascot and, even though he has been put up a fair chunk, if he reproduces what he did at Ascot he’d have every chance. You need a horse rated in the 150s to win the Racing Post Chase.”
Trainer Richard Rowe on Tatenen, Feb 9th 2011
Since moving to Richard Rowe’s stable in Sullington, seven year old Tatenen appears to have rekindled his love for the game. Following that fall in the ’09 Arkle when favourite, he has never quite lived up to the potential Paul Nicholls always said he had. Jumping ultimately had let him down recently, but it’s not a huge concern given his recent performance.
A front-running victory in the Victorchandler.com Handicap Chase certainly caught the eye and his long galloping, fluent action suggests he’s on the up and back to his best. Coupled with that is a solid form line with favourite Fistral Beach in front of I’m A Legend – the horse, not the crap Will Smith movie. Although they’re probably as talented as each other (Neil Mulholland won’t like that). It’s difficult to equate Tatenen’s free-running 16 length victory over I’m A Legend with Fistral Beach’s handy win off a lower mark by four lengths, but the disparity in prices means the value is with Rowe’s runner. Andrew Thornton got a nice tune out of him last time and he’s getting the leg up again. Tat’s got to be your bet in the Racing Post Chase.