This is a fascinating and potentially top class renewal of the RSA Chase and the prize should be heading to Seven Barrows and Nicky Henderson, with PUNCHESTOWNS the call to beat stablemates Long Run and Burton Port. Our selection suffered a scare last week when connnections briefly considered his participation to be in doubt, but reports since have been positive and we can rely on Nicky Henderson having him here fit and ready; with two other runners, he'd have surely taken Punchestowns out were he not fit. With that in mind, he's become a very reasonable price having spent much of the winter as favourite for the race and he's impressed since taking to the larger obstacles. On hurdles form, he still has the potential to be a serious tool as in that sphere only Big Buck's was too good, so despite last week's setback he's the one they have to beat. Long Run is going to be a tough nut to crack and should give his rider Sam Waley-Cohen a cracking run. He arrived from France with a tall reputation and justified it with a facile win in the Feltham at Kempton. He was then stepped down in trip at Warwick and showed he's got speed as well as stamina in scoring, so this likely favourite must be rated the biggest threat to our pick. Burton Port may represent value to make it a perfect result for Nicky Henderson. He's not achieved quite the same level of form as his stable companions but this big stamp of a horse has done all that's been asked of him and should give his running over a trip that suits. He's officially rated the same as Diamond Harry, although Nick Williams' charge could yet improve beyond his rating of 156 if brushing up on his jumping. He's not looked a natural over fences so far though and there will be no hiding place here; he's priced more on his achievements over the smaller obstacles. Weapon's Amnesty won here last year over hurdles and has done little wrong since taking to fences, but the form he's shown remains a notch below what is usually required to win one of these, whilst Knockara Beau has been found out at the top table this season. Citizen Vic is bidding to provide his trainer with a double in the race but doesn't look half the horse Cooldine is, Little Josh has plenty to find on the figures and doesn't impress with his jumping and Chasing Cars is chasing minor money. This is a fascinating renewal of a quality race and may well be the best novice contest seen over fences for some while, with Punchestowns taken to lead home a stable procession.
Burton Port (IRE) 4-6fav (11-7) Always prominent, went clear 2nd 3 out, challenged next, ridden to lead before last, stayed on well flat, won at Ascot 3m nov chs Grd 2 (1) gs in Feb beating Knockara Beau (11-7) by 4l, 5 ran.
Chasing Cars (IRE) 10-3fav (11-12) Chased leaders, 3rd halfway, headway to lead 5 out, ridden and challenge entering straight, headed 2 out, no extra in 3rd before last, kept on same pace, 3rd of 18, 10l behind Organisedconfusion (11-3) at Gowran Park 2m 2f beg chase sft in Feb.
Citizen Vic (IRE) 9-10fav (11-12) Remote 2nd, closed on leader approaching 3 out, led travelling well after 2 out, ridden and strongly pressed approaching last, rallied under pressure to assert last 100 yards, won at Leopardstown 2m 1f nov stks sft in Feb beating See U Bob (11-9) by 2 1/2l, 6 ran.
Diamond Harry 4-6fav (11-8) Tracked leader, hit 4th, pecked 12th, led 4 out, went right 2 out, jumped well last, in command and ridden out flat, won at Newbury 3m nov stks (2) gs in Feb beating Bensalem (11-5) by 2l, 3 ran.
Flight Leader (IRE) 7-2 (10-12) Jumped right, led until approaching 14th, led before 16th, ridden and headed before 2 out where not fluent, stayed on flat, no impression, 2nd of 4, 4l behind Dance Island (10-12) at Warwick 3m 2f nov stks (3) gs in Feb.
Knockara Beau (IRE) 9-4 (11-7) Mistakes, in touch, switched outside 7th, blundered 9th, challenged 13th, jumped left and blundered next, outpaced 3 out, soon ridden, rallied to chase winner flat, no impression, 2nd of 5, 4l behind Burton Port (11-7) at Ascot 3m nov chs Grd 2 (1) gs in Feb.
Little Josh (IRE) 4-1 (11-12) Made all, blundered badly 4th, ridden approaching 2 out, stayed on well, won at Haydock 2m 4f nov chs (2) hvy in Feb beating Ernst Blofeld (11-5) by 1 1/2l, 6 ran.
Punchestowns (FR) 4-11fav (11-4) Tracked leader, blundered 7th, given time to recover, closed approaching 3 out, challenged and going best 2 out, soon led, quickened to go clear flat, comfortably, won at Sandown 2m 4f nov chs G1 (1) gs in Feb beating Tchico Polos (11-4) by 8l, 5 ran.
Weapon's Amnesty (IRE) 4-1 (11-10) Held up, mistake 6th, closer in 4th 2 out, ridden entering straight, went 2nd after last, kept on run-in, 2nd of 8, 1 3/4l behind Citizen Vic (11-10) at Leopardstown 2m 5f nov chs G1 hvy in Feb.
Long Run (FR) 4-7fav (11-5) Held up, bumped 1st, headway to track leader 3rd, mistake 6th, led before 2 out, ridden clear last, ran on well, won at Warwick 2m nov chs G2 (1) gs in Feb beating Joe Jo Star (11-0) by 12l, 5 ran.