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Darran

Hunter Chase - 4.20 Ludlow

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Thanks to 3 abandonment's there have only been 3 Hunter Chases so far and in the last preview I jokingly put that Road To Rome doesn't run in the race having won the first two. Amazingly he is set to line up again here and there is a very strong chance he not just run in 3 of the first 4 Hunter Chases but win them as well. He was superb over course and distance last month and I thought it was a better win than the Taunton one as his jumping was better and he beat a good horse in Beeves. Marinero was 21L behind in 3rd and as much as he will probably come on for the first run of the season and he does have a 4lbs turnaround in the weights I just don't see how he can reverse the form. The handicapper put Road To Rome up to 139 and very few Hunter Chases earn that sort of mark. The ground is a slight concern, but he has run well enough with a bit of cut before and he has obviously improved a lot since his former rules days anyway so I don't think he necessarily needs good ground.

Upswing ran well enough at Warwick behind Hazel Hill to finish 4th, but I am not sure he achieved a great deal there and he was never that consistent for his former trainer so he wouldn't be certain to back it up. 

Queen Olivia has been the big market mover although the 20/1 was a silly price in the first place. I like her as a horse and it would be good to see her at some stage add to her Fontwell Hunter Chase win in 2017, but I struggle to see how she can land this. That Fontwell race she was given a superb ride and that certainly was a big reason why she won. Last season I thought the 2nd here in April behind Full Trottle was good, but she was always held by Mr Mercurial back here later in the month and then didn't stay at Cheltenham on her final start. She has had a wind op and it might well help her although for me she has a bit to find with the likes of Road To Rome despite the fact she gets over a stone in weight from him. Place at best for me.

I put up Always On The Run for the Hereford race we lost last week, but this looks tougher than that race. He has won on soft ground, but that was over 2m at Kempton and he has avoided it since including being a non-runner. Funnily enough he is in the Beeves colours and he also front runs so Will might just let him go on again as he did with Beeves, but he wouldn't be as strong a stayer. He might be able to hold on for a place and it will be annoying if he does win after putting him up for the Hereford race, but I just can't see how if Road To Rome runs his race that he can beat him.

I was at Cartmel the day Flying Eagle won their in 2017 in what was his last win, but that was a weak Novice Chase and he was beaten in handicaps of marks in the mid 120s after that. He also looks like he needs a shorter trip than this although he does have a very shrewd trainer in Hunter Chases so if he did run well it wouldn't be a total surprise.

Connetable was 3rd in the Pertemps at The Festival last March, but he showed nothing in two runs for his new trainer last year. He was a Non-Runner at Warwick and I didn't fancy him there and his two handicap runs are miles away from what will be needed to win this.

I thought O Maonlai was interesting at Hereford, but this is a different test and I think he will need a lesser race than this although I will be keeping a close eye on how he gets on. The other two have a lot to find.

If Road To Rome is at the same level he has been so far this season I just don't see how he doesn't win this. I saw a picture of him on Twitter that was taken the other day and he looks in really good shape at the moment. I thought he should be odds on so odds against is worth taking. Marinero might be capable of getting closer this time and he has an obvious place chance. Always On The Run should come on for his run behind Hazel Hill and might hold on for a place after being up there with the pace. Queen Olivia certainly has it in her to reward those who got on e/w at the big prices as well.

Road To Rome 3pts @ 11/10 with Betfair and Paddy Power

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