AMID racing’s weekend whiteout there were a couple of telling Cheltenham Festival clues at Naas. One was Un Atout’s facile victory, while the other was TOFINO BAY’S gritty display in the Grade 2 novices chase. Dessie Hughes’ chaser outstayed the promising AUPCHARLIE and was given quotes ranging from 16/1 to 20/1 for the RSA Chase.
The RSA market is dominated by one horse – DYNASTE, who is generally a 5/2 chance after three mightily impressive victories over fences. If he repeats that form at the Festival then 5/2 could look great value, but the RSA Chase has a history of puncturing reputations. It is also a race that some trainers simply avoid as it can leave a permanent mark on a young horse.
Tofino Bay might just offer a solid each-way alternative for punters looking for a bit of value. Although he is 10, he is a proven stayer and is guaranteed to be coming up the hill when others have cried enough.
His emergence as an RSA contender coincided with another leading fancy, ROCKY CREEK, being identified as a doubtful starter. Paul Nicholls sees him as a horse for next season and is already eyeing the Hennessy Gold Cup for this likeable seven-year-old.
Aupcharlie travelled like the winner behind Tofino Bay but didn’t quite get home. He looks the better long-term prospect but the Jewson at the Festival might be a more suitable target over the shorter trip.
Elsewhere BOSTON BOB and BACK IN FOCUS are other RSA hopefuls, while UNIONISTE and SUPER DUTY from the Nicholls and McCain yards also feature heavily in the ante-post market.
It will also be interesting to see if Victor Dartnall can get the hugely promising AMBION WOOD ready for the race.
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