Cheltenham RSA Chase: The mounting case for Southfield Theatre

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Cheltenham Festival Wednesday’s RSA Novices’ Chase is a bit of a riddle at present, particularly with doubts still hanging over whether 5/2 favourite Don Poli will go at all or be resting at that point having run in Tuesday’s National Hunt Chase.

As stated on these pages not too long ago, Gigginstown number one jockey Bryan Cooper didn’t name Willie Mullins’ highly-regarded Poliglote gelding in his five top rides ahead of the Prestbury Park spectacle, which strongly suggests Don Poli will go in the earlier, amateur riders’ race.

Landing on an alternative isn’t easy; 4/1 shot Coneygree, for example, will attempt to triumph where 19 horses have failed before him by taking the RSA after winning Kempton’s Boxing Day Feltham Chase.

However, the stat that sweeps through this 14-runner field like a wrecking ball is that the last eight horses who claimed the RSA Chase were seven-year-olds, which extends to 13 of the past 15 winners.

Remarkably, five seven-year-olds at most will line up on Wednesday, in 4/1 shot King’s Palace, 7/1 Southfield Theatre, If In Doubt at 10/1, Apache Jack at 20/1 and rank outsider The Ould Lad at 50/1.

No horse has won this at bigger odds than 16/1 since Mullins’ Rule Supreme over a decade ago, so we can confidently put a line through the latter pair, which leaves a combination tricast of King’s Palace, Southfield Theatre and If In Doubt.

Of the trio, Paul Nicholls’ in-form Southfield Theatre, who was tipped up as the Racing Post’s Pricewise pick at 20/1 some months back, looks the likeliest to score.

Last season’s Pertemps Hurdle runner-up to Fingal Bay, by a nose, has won four of his five races since against some smart movers, including Mares’ Hurdle fancy Polly Peachum, and like 2014 RSA victor O’Faolain’s Boy goes into the race with a last-time-out February triumph under his belt.

You won’t get the kind of fancy price Tom Segal flagged up, but there’s still value to be had at 7/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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