The ‘will he’ ‘won’t he’ saga that has followed Grands Crus around since his Feltham win finally came to a conclusion on Monday when trainer David Pipe confirmed him for the RSA Chase rather than the Gold Cup, and the horse currently heads the odds markets with William Hill.
There are many things in his favour for the three mile novice feature as he’s quite obviously the most talented horse, on what we have seen so far, in the field and he brings the premium form to the table after his impressive win at Kempton over Christmas where he recorded a quicker time than the King George VI Chase won by Kauto Star.
aBut from a trends point of view, he probably has the most stats against him over any other short price favourite of the Festival.
That aforementioned win in the Feltham was impressive but it’s hard to get away from the fact that no horse has ever done the Feltham-RSA double in 17 attempts. The two tracks at Kempton and Cheltenham are like chalk and cheese; one suits Flat track speed merchants and the other more favourable towards battle hardened stayers. Grands Crus has won at Cheltenham before though and there is no doubts surrounding his ability to handle the track.
So far he has been faultless over fences but he would only become the second unbeaten horse to win the race since 1998, following in the footsteps of the great Denman. Additionally, 10 of the last 10 winners had their last run between 24 and 55 days before Cheltenham – Grands Crus hasn’t run yet this calendar year.
This negatives about the favourite will open up plenty of doors for the horses just behind him in the market, especially people wanting to make a case for the Nicky Henderson trained Bobs Worth, who ticks a lot of boxes. He finished a staying on beaten horse both in the Kempton novice chase and in the Reynoldstown at Ascot, which has produced many winners in the past.