WhichBookie racing analyst Will Smith provides a preview and two each-way selections for the sponsored card at Fontwell Park on Wednesday 20th October
Paddy Power (Handicap) Chase – 2.55
Date of Tips: 22/12/2020
Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (11:03 22/12/2020) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.
The festive period’s racing is always a two-pronged assault on the senses, as Kempton’s quality and charm is more than matched by Leopardstown’s five Grade 1’s over three days. The Grade 1’s look either ripe for a short-priced favourite to pluck, or too competitive to pick through at this stage. Time and declarations might give us more options, but for now it is worth a more concentrated look at one of the big betting handicaps of the meeting – the Paddy Power Chase at 2.55 on Sunday, run over 3m.
It is always hugely competitive of course, but at this stage there is one horse that stands out like a sore thumb to me, and that is the Willie Mullins-trained Ontheropes – at 10/1 each-way with Ladbrokes and Coral, he will surely go off much shorter come the day, were he to be declared. He has seen little nibbles of support in the last few days that would suggest this is the plan.
If I suggested that you parachute last year’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle winner and current RSA Chase favourite, Monkfish, into this handicap off his current handicap mark of 152, then you’d be hard pushed to suggest that he wouldn’t be anything other than a strong favourite.
So, given how well Ontheropes ran against his much more lauded stablemate on his seasonal reappearance at Fairyhouse, that Ontheropes has only been raised 2lbs to 139, having got to within 4 lengths of Monkfish on that occasion, is leniency of the highest order. Educated observers would suggest that Monkfish hardly got out of a canter, but watch the race back closely again, and it was clear that Ontheropes was much better than the bare form also.
Held up and kept wide, it was a run that strongly suggested of a prep run, leaving the master trainer with something left to work on for a more valuable prize down the line. To my eye, he will either take in the Paddy Power Chase on Sunday, or the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January (a race that Mullins farms), or even both.
At 10/1 each-way with Ladbrokes and Coral right now, he could go the way of Mullins’ last handicap snip in this race, The Crafty Butcher, who was a well backed 11/4 favourite in 2016. I’m hoping that Ontheropes goes one better than The Crafty Butcher, who found only the Gordon Elliott-trained Noble Endeavour too strong four years ago.
Elliott will have his usual battalions lining up again, to win the race again after Roaring Bull’s amazing last ditch triumph last year. Farclas is a very interesting entry of his, and 3m could be the making of him. While Joseph O’Brien’s Home By The Lee has long been crying out for a step up to this trip.
Ontheropes though, has been kept fresh and lightly raced for a big handicap, before surely running in graded novice chases as the season goes on. He may even be a flyer for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. But for the here and now, make sure you take some of the 10/1 each-way with Ladbrokes and Coral for Sunday’s Paddy Power Chase at 2.55 at Leopardstown.