It all depends on the weather forecast. A glorious Easter basked in sunshine has almost forced organisers at Sandown to water the course in time for the Bet 365 Sandown Jump Finale this Saturday. And it’s really for the benefit of one very special Paul Nicholls chaser who, fingers crossed, could line up against the 18 race undefeated pride of British National Hunt racing, Altior.
Cyrname is currently the highest rated chaser in Britain on a mark of 178 and after missing engagements at Cheltenham and Aintree, he’s finally on the verge of being green lighted for this Saturday’s enticing clash. Coupled with the valuable Bet 365 Gold Cup, it’s a fitting end to a long and eventful National Hunt season.
We’ll preview both key races. However, the possibility of Altior finally suffering a defeat is apparent as Paul Nicholls takes on the pride of Seven Barrows.
THE BET 265 CELEBRATION CHASE: CYRNAME vs ALTIOR
Altior has been spectacularly workmanlike this season. He hasn’t raced in his usual flamboyant authoritative style: he’s simply come up trumps when needed and systematically beaten his rivals. His Champion Chase win was gutsy and resilient.
Sceau Royal had the better of him at the last fence, however, Altior delivered his almost trademark determination in the last 100 yards to regain the lost advantage on the uphill run in. It wasn’t vintage Altior by any means but showed that the Henderson star has courage as well as incredible talent.
But it’s open to intrigued discussion what might have been the result if the Paul Nicholls rising youngster Cyrname had turned up.
Whilst Altior laboured to beat Politologue at Cheltenham, Cyrname despatched the same horse with almost arrogant ease in the Betfair Ascot Chase, leaving him and Waiting Patiently 17 lengths adrift. It was a memorising performance and good enough to be rated the performance of the season at 178.
However, his participation is still a little in the air as the Ditcheat team must have a bit of ease in the ground before unleashing their star to take on Altior. He is dual declared, holding an entry in the Bet 365 Oaksey Chase where he is currently Evens favourite (Betfair, Paddy Power).
The wait to see Cyrname perform again has been agonisingly long and it remains to be seen if the 2 month long break will have any effect on his fitness.
Altior is vulnerable. This is by far his toughest encounter this season. He will have to iron out some of the quirky flaws that he has shown this season, most noticeably the near disastrous error at the water jump in the Champion Chase.
If you go by the formbook, you would have to pick Cyrname based on the Ascot performance. He will have no problem with the trip and the right handed Sandown track will suit. All horses get beaten at some stage and this could be the end of a thrilling run of wins to allow a new talent to emerge. In any case, it will be a race to savour.
Bookmakers are not taking any chances with Altior however with William Hill offering 2/5 best (All prices correct at time of writing). 28/15 best with Coral for Cyrname.
THE BET 365 GOLD CUP
The gruelling marathon which heralds the end of the National Hunt season is customarily competitive with some seasoned campaigners including The Young Master and Rock The Kasbah hoping to improve on their runs in The Grand National. We’ve picked out three of interest.
GIVE ME A COPPER
I’ve been following this Jeremy Kyle owned chaser this season mainly down to Paul Nicholls’ positive appraisal of the horse at the start of the season. He possesses all the hallmarks of an effective steeple-chaser judging by his scope and running style. I really thought he would come on for his encouraging 4th at Sandown earlier this year but didn’t really sparkle at Cheltenham in the Ultima Handicap.
This is arguably an easier contest and he’s racing at a winnable weight so I’ll be chancing him again. 11/1 best with William Hill, Betfair, Paddy Power.
THE YOUNG MASTER
This Neil Mullholland 10 year old has really bounced back this season and fully justifies favouritism. His third in the Fulke Walwyn at Cheltenham was eye catching and he looks favourable at the weights also. 9/1 (William Hill, Betfair, Paddy Power).
BEWARE THE BEAR
Nicky Henderson’s Ultima Handicap winner will be feared despite carrying top weight. It’s a big ask but he is clearly the form horse of the race. Great each way value with William Hill, Betfair, Bet Victor at 12/1.
THE BET 365 CELEBRATION CHASE: CYRNAME, WIN, 28/15 with Coral
Best priced odds. All odds are correct at the time of publishing (12:00 24th April 2019) and are subject to change.