Cheltenham: The thinking behind Don Poli’s RSA Chase support

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Despite the presence of in-form trio Kings Palace, The Young Master and Southfield Theatre in the Grade 1 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, it’s difficult to look beyond 7/4 favourite Don Poli for trainer Willie Mullins, jockey Bryan Cooper and owner Gigginstown House Stud.

Don Poli had been favourite for both the RSA and Tuesday’s National Hunt Chase during the first two months of 2015, following his thoroughly impressive hammering of a fine field in the Grade 1 Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown between Xmas and New Year.

The fact that he has been diverted to this more valuable, 3m event suggests Mullins, who obviously knows how to place a horse at Cheltenham having won top trainer at the Festival in three of the past four seasons, believes the Poliglote gelding has enough class to take it.

David Pipe’s Kings Palace holds obvious claims at 7/2, having won seven of his 10 races under rules including four times around this track, but in his only Festival test, last year’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, the seven-year-old fell at the final obstacle when a well-beaten fifth

The Young Master is also in with a chance at 5/1, having finished first past the post in each of his last five races, but Neil Mulholland’s runner is capable of serving up a shocker, such as when 10th of 11 at Kempton back in February last year, after going off as 7/2 second favourite.

Southfield Theatre’s claims were espoused on these pages not too long ago and nobody should be put off getting behind Paul Nicholls’ son of King’s Theatre at 6/1 following his four wins and a second since finishing runner-up to Fingal Bay in last year’s Pertemps Final at the Festival.

However, that good word was predicated on Don Poli’s expected presence in the amateur riders National Hunt Chase, after Gigginstown number one jockey Bryan Cooper seemingly forgot to mention him as one of his top rides in the Cotswolds.

The young Kerryman will be aboard in the RSA, where the horse Mullins tipped as a future Gold Cup contender looks likely to go off only just odds against.

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

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