Real Steel and Clan Des Obeaux represent a formidable double challenge by prolific Didcot Champion trainer Paul Nicholls, in the eagerly-awaited nine-runner £84195 grade one Betway Bowl Chase over an extended three miles of ‘good to soft’ Aintree today, and Tiger Roll is one of them!
By any stretch of imagination it’s a ‘Real’ conundrum!
On a process of elimination only four can possibly win on my time-handicap; Real Steel, Clan Des Obeaux, Native River and Waiting Patiently, if he stays and isn’t too old at ten.
Evergreen ‘Tiger’ is eleven!
Bryony Frost rides Real Steel, formerly-trained by Irish NH ‘genius’ Willie Mullins who moved the seven-year-old away in October because of another so-called disappointing effort in the Cheltenham Gold Cup six months earlier; Paul faces a challenge which he’ll be relishing.
On the back of that sixth to stable-companion Al Boum Photo on Prestbury Park, in the aforementioned Cheltenham feature last March, when beaten only seven lengths, my each-way selection has a ‘Real’ chance and will go off at massive, challenging odds.
Real Steel last appeared in the ‘King George’ at Kempton on Boxing Day when ignominiously pulled up by Daryl Jacob in the race won by Frodon, a stable-companion, and mount of Bryony!
‘Clan’ is a standing dish in this-type and Native River has been a legendary marathon at the highest level with ex-champion jockey Richard Johnson who retired last weekend.
‘New’ jockey for the game and genuine veteran will be Jonjo O’Neill junior, a potential great just like his famous dad but presence of Tiger Roll is so intriguing!
There are four eleven-year-olds in this ‘pensioners parade’ and it’s definitely a ‘Real’ opportunity to take advantage of backing a good-priced ‘young’ upstart; I’ll be giving it a whirl and keeping fingers crossed for Eileendover in the concluding National Hunt flat race over an extended two miles.
My long-time good friend, trainer Pam Sly, deliberately avoided class of the Cheltenham ‘bumper’ three weeks ago but, unfortunately, seven lengths third, Elle Est Belle, is one of fifteen rivals and likely favourite. Dan and Harry Skelton are confident with the latter locked in an insatiable quest for the jockeys’ championship with Brian Hughes.
In stark contrast the ‘pocket rocket’ of flat-racing Hollie Doyle partners Arctic Emperor in a Maiden Stakes over a mile of Southwell fibresand and Archie Watson’s charge looks the banker of a tremendous day; just a question of acting on the ‘deep stuff’ for the Territories colt, three lengths fifth on debut at York six months ago and apparently rarin’ to go.
Selections, Southwell, 2.10 Arctic Emperor; Aintree, 2.50 Real Steel (e.w); 5.15 Elle Est Belle (e.w).
Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019