The excitement amongst the connections of the hugely talented Grand Crus after David Pipe’s grey had bolted up in the Grade 1 Feltham Novices Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day was palpable around the winners enclosure at the Sunbury track and it is surely going to take a very good horse indeed to lower his colours in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in mid-March, writes Elliot Slater.
Simply oozing class, the seven-year-old travelled with consummate ease throughout the three-mile contest before being sent on into the lead at the 13th fence, regular pilot Tom Scudamore having judged that a number of his rivals were beginning to find the pace a little hot to handle so he decided to inject a further burst of speed to get the opposition hard at it a long way from home. The move had the desired effect with only the smart Silviniaco Conti able to remain within shouting distance of last season’s World Hurdle runner-up, but even he had to give best once the son of Dom Alco went for home going to the second last.
In the end Pipe’s tremendous chasing prospect crossed the line two-and-a-quarter-lengths to the good (having been just nudged out from the final fence) over the brave Paul Nicholls-trained runner-up, sealing a performance that prompted the bookies to slash his odds for an RSA Chase victory from as big as 5/1 pre-race to as short as 6/4 in the moments after he crossed the winning line before settling at a general offer of a red hot 2/1 favourite for the three-mile novice chasing crown.
Pipe certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons when speaking to the press immediately after the Feltham victory however by suggesting that he will also give Grand Crus a speculative entry in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race for which he is now quoted as 8/1 third favourite across the board.