Chianti Classico (5/2) was purchased for £105,000 in April having won his only Irish point-to-point for Colin Bowe less than a fortnight earlier. The Shantou gelding joined Kim Bailey and shaped nicely on his Rules debut when finishing runner-up in a bumper at Ascot in late October. The four year old confirmed the promise by routing thirteen rivals by upwards of eleven lengths in a similar event at Market Rasen on Thursday. Racing prominently, he powered clear inside the home straight and never looked like being caught. Given his age, he will be kept to bumpers this term but is unlikely to be over raced. One can imagine him tackling the Listed bumper at Newbury in February rather than tackle the championship events at Cheltenham or Aintree in the spring. Either way, he is a cracking long-term prospect and another winner for Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers in One Jump Ahead.
I am looking forward to working at Aintree on Saturday which stages a terrific eight race card with in excess of 90 runners. The highlight is the Becher Chase over the National fences. Dual winner Vieux Lion Rouge lines up in the three and a quarter miles event for the sixth time and, with 22 declared runners, it is the largest field since 2014. I have been studying the runners and like the look of Achille and have backed the grey at 20/1 with Bet365 (16/1 with Betfred, BetVictor, Coral and Skybet). An eleven year old, he is making his seasonal reappearance but has the ability to go well fresh - first time out record is 55222 - and was runner-up in the Warwick Classic Chase and Grand National Trial at Haydock off 134 and 138 respectively last winter. Now rated 141, the grey is trained by Venetia Williams (4 winners from her last 11 runners) and the softer the ground the better. Set to carry 10st 5lb, he bids to emulate Feels Like Gold (1999) and Vieux Lion Rouge (2020) who won the race at the same age. I wouldn't put readers off backing the Dom Alco gelding at the odds suggested.
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