David Pipe’s high-class chaser Grand Crus remains on target to tackle either the Argento Chase at Cheltenham at the end of January or an alternative novice chase a month later before a final decision is made as to which race he will target at the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival in mid-March, writes Elliot Slater.
The seven-year-old grey has won all three of his chase starts this term since switching to the larger obstacles after enjoying a highly progressive campaign over hurdles last season that saw him shoot up the ranks from decent handicapper to finish runner-up to Big Buck’s, both in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree a few weeks later. Those following the Gold Cup betting will have been keeping an eye on him.
Already this term the gelded son of Dom Alco has proved himself a very talented chaser, and after easily landing the Grade 1 Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day (beating the smart Silviniaco Conti by two-and-a-quarter lengths), the talk moved on from him being hot favourite for the RSA Chase to the possibility of taking on both Long Run and Kauto Star in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race for which he is now as short as 9/1 in the Betfair Cheltenham Odds despite his relative lack of experience in this new sphere.
Pipe is refusing to be rushed into making a decision about which race to bid for but did concede that his task should be made easier after Grand Crus runs his next race, the outcome of which will almost certainly clarify his mind and that of the new star chaser’s owners Roger Stanley and Yvonne Reynolds. The winner of seven of his 14 career starts is currently a strong favourite for the RSA Chase with one major firm going as short as 6/4, the majority trading at around the 5/2 mark, whilst a couple are still prepared to take a chance and go as big as 7/2.