This is an outstanding edition of the Savills Chase. Winners of last season’s Irish, Cheltenham and Punchestown Gold Cups, the star novice chaser of 2022/23, as well as another former Gold Cup winner, the 2023 Irish National and Ryanair heroes, all converge on Leopardstown to try and lay down a serious marker for the rest of the season.
In total, the field have won 24 Grade 1s over fences, in case you had any doubt that this could provide the race of the season, let alone the Christmas period. No horse since Synchronised has gone on to win the Gold Cup later in the season, though that could be set to change. After all, the likes of Best Mate and Denman have won here en route in the past.
With such a stellar lineup, Joe Napier provides the lowdown throughout the field, as 11 look set to go to post.
Conflated returns to defend his title of 12 months ago, although he may find things tougher this time around.
Last year’s renewal saw Gordon Elliott land a third renewal from the last four years as CONFLATED ran out a comfortable winner over Kemboy (2nd) and Fury Road (3rd):
Key Race Trends
- All of the last ten winners have been aged between 6-8
- Gordon Elliott boasts the greatest overall domination – he has four wins in the last seven renewals
- Conflated was the first favourite for seven years to be victorious
- The average official rating coming into the race in the last decade is 166
- Six of the last ten winners had had just one prior run that season
GALOPIN DES CHAMPS
(Willie Mullins/Paul Townend)
Few would have thought last season’s Gold Cup form could possibly be brought into question less than a year down the line, but Galopin Des Champs is now a horse with something to prove for the first time in his career. Despite sauntering to Cheltenham glory despite plenty of adversity in-running, he has now been handed back-to-back defeats by the less exposed Fastorslow. There is something of a former champion boxer in his tale at present.
His Gold Cup runner-up Bravemansgame has now been beaten on all three starts this term, and Willie Mullins will be keen that his charge does not incur his own hat-trick of defeats. However, while some may fear he is broken, there is still plenty of reason to keep the faith. Punchestown may have been one run too many last season, and he was beaten under two lengths in the John Durkan on return despite his jumping lacking fluency. Back over a 3m trip, and with his fitness more secure, he will remain the one to beat for now.
Legendary Irish trainer Noel Meade is backing Galopin Des Champs to bounce back to form and win, stating:
“It’ll be a brilliant race this year. The fact that Galopin Des Champs is in, instead of going for the Irish Gold Cup has really made it. He’ll face Gerri Colombe, who didn’t run in the King George and still has a bit to find on Galopin Des Champs, with Gerri Colombe needing the extra two furlongs of the Gold Cup to see him at his very best.”
Noel Meade’s Savills Chase tip: Galopin Des Champs, who is 13/8 with BoyleSports in the Leopardstown betting.
(Gordon Elliott/Jack Kennedy)
Gordon Elliott must be cursing the weather at present. The drying ground at Kempton left him erring away from what now looked a very winnable King George for his escalating talent, and swaying instead towards one of the deepest lineups the Savills Chase has ever faced. Bah humbug indeed.
Not that there will be too many fears held by connections. Gerri Colombe has still been beaten just once in his career, and but for a winning post being ten yards later, would remain unbeaten. His chasing successes have owed much to his application late on, bowing his head and digging into reserves of stamina that most can only dream of at the top level. It is how he won the Champion Chase at Down Royal from the jaws of defeat, and how, if still in contention with two to jump, his rivals will be praying he does not emerge at their girths.
(Martin Brassil/J J Slevin)
Wacky geniuses add to any great story. Dr Emmett Brown, Professor Dumbledore, Martin Brassil…at least you may as well add County Kildare’s finest to that list given his exceptional, but unorthodox campaigning of Fastorslow last season and into this. Now a Grade 1 winner on back-to-back occasions, his seven-year-old has a target on his back for the first time.
Brassil clearly knew a baptism of fire would not affect his charge, who was sent into open Grade 1s in his first two chases. It now seems scarcely believable that he was beaten in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham, but he has swiftly made amends, with wins in the Punchestown Gold Cup and John Durkan making him third favourite for the Gold Cup. He is not ground reliant, has consistently looked an assured jumper, and should be right there again.
Fancied Ones & Former Winners
Defending champions rarely go off at double figure odds, but Conflated is almost certain to. That is not a slight on his ability, as he won authoritatively last season, though the difference in the quality of field from that day to this is quite remarkable. Last year, he beat 2018 winner Kemboy into second.
Conflated has not won since, though he and Envoi Allen combined to give Gerri Colombe a fright at Down Royal last time, so he can still make his presence felt. As for Envoi Allen, it can be difficult to catch him on the right day at this point of his career but he really should have won last time. 3m at this level at Leopardstown might not be his Christmas cup of tea though.
Aside from Conflated, the other former winner is the forgotten horse in A Plus Tard. Last season panned out horribly for him, having been pulled up in the Betfair Chase and Gold Cup. There may have been mitigating circumstances for the latter, and his third placed effort behind Shishkin at Aintree was an improvement. His best form would still make him the one to beat, but backing him requires faith beyond his odds for now.
Can The Field Provide An Upset?
Willie Mullins runs a further quartet to support his protagonist, with Appreciate It even having beaten Galopin Des Champs in the John Durkan last time. He failed to repel Fastorslow by just half-a-length last time, and he has often shaped as a staying chaser. He will likely be allowed to bowl along by Sean O’Keeffe and is not safely ruled out, with a left-handed track likely to suit better.
I Am Maximus could have proved too much of a frustration for Mullins and co, but things have finally clicked for him. While he is likely still short of true Grade 1 level, he made his breakthrough at that grade in novice company last time. He probably won’t improve enough, but he is likelier than the other recent graduate from novices, Churchstonewarrior, who could be a force in handicaps and lower Graded races, but has stones to find here.
JP McManus can also count on Capodanno and Janidil as well as his Irish National winner. The former looked of Gold Cup potential when claiming a Punchestown Grade 1 at the end of his novice season. He may yet make up for lost time at the age of seven: his comeback last turn was solid enough given a Grade 1 penalty, his Grand National run can be ignored, and the market vibes foreshadowed his no show on return at Thurles.
If you are of a forgiving persuasion, he is the outsider who could nick a place. Janidil, on the other hand, has had enough goes at 3m to show that he is better over shorter and he is making up the numbers bar divine intervention.
Whatever you do, clear your schedule for 2:25 because this will be worth watching. Fastorslow will make a genuine bid to win his third Grace 1 in a row, but GALOPIN DES CHAMPS lost a lot of ground jumping to him at Punchestown last month. It can be expected that he will jump far better and a return to 3m suits the Gold Cup winner more. Gerri Colombe’s strike rate is astonishing, but he still needs to find plenty to spook his fellow favourites, while fellow second season chaser Appreciate It is also worth fearing, as he may still make a serious 3m chaser. Stablemate Conflated can run his usual doughty race, with A Plus Tard worth a mention given he could still regain his former glories. Market vibes were massively against Capodanno on his return, but he too adds depth to this astonishing field.
- Galopin Des Champs (15/8 generally)
- Fastorslow (4/1 Ladbrokes, 7/2 generally)
- Appreciate It (25/1 generally)
*Odds Correct At Time Of Writing – 1.35pm Wednesday 27th December*
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