The Old Roan Chase is a limited handicap run over 2m4f at Aintree’s Mildmay course. Although missing Ryanair hero Dynaste, the race is packed full of intrigue with last year’s winner Conquisto, the classy Module, the promising Uxizandre and old favourite Wishful Thinking all set to take their chance.
Module makes his seasonal reappearance here but has the ability to run well fresh, as he showed when unlucky not to win the Haldon Gold Cup last season after a summer break. Although twice unsuccessful over 2m4f in his chasing career so far, he often shapes as though this sort of intermediate trip is what he wants and he brings the best recent form to the race with his third in last season’s Champion Chase. Lightly raced and only seven years old, he has plenty of scope for further improvement and looks to have a good chance here despite having to concede weight all round.
Wishful Thinking also makes his seasonal reappearance but hasn’t won after a summer break since 2009. He was a disappointing sixth in this race last year having been a good second to the rampant For Non Stop the year before. He is 2lbs higher this time around having won a good handicap at Cheltenham in January and faces a tough task conceding weight to all but Module and would probably prefer more ease in the ground.
Uxizandre won first time out last season but looking back it was a race he was entitled to win. He seemed to improve for the reapplication of cheekpieces (absent here) and being ridden more aggressively towards the end of last season, not beaten far by Taquin Du Seuil in the JLT Chase and then winning the Grade 1 Manifesto Chase here at Aintree. The presence of Kie in the field means he’s unlikely to get an easy time of things on the lead but as a lightly raced and improving sort he commands plenty of respect.
Rajdhani Express was a disappointing favourite in the Melling Chase here in April having run well in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham. He makes his seasonal reappearance here and although capable of running well fresh, he has never won after a significant absence and a mark of 158 looks tough considering he was well beaten off 155 at Cheltenham last November. This trip appears to be his optimum though and it’s possible that this 7yo can improve again.
Rolling Aces won at Down Royal on last year’s seasonal bow but was nicely in at the weights that day and a slightly disappointing season followed. However several of his runs came over trips which possibly stretched his stamina and he ran a career best in the Melling Chase in a first time tongue-tie. Perhaps this is his best trip and being lightly raced and in good hands he cannot be safely ruled out with the possibility of further improvement to come.
Edgardo Sol surrendered his unbeaten record at Aintree when a disappointing seventh in this race last year. Racing off a mark of 150 this time around he isn’t handicapped out of things but all of his wins have come over shorter trips and he is another that has never won on his seasonal reappearance. He has recently left Paul Nicholls for the in-form Emma Lavelle but the change of scenery needs to spark a significant revival.
Mr Moonshine was fourth in this race last year on his seasonal reappearance. That was a good effort when considering he was racing from 5lb out of the handicap and he should be sharper this year having had a recent spin over hurdles at Wetherby. He’s at his best over this sort of trip and is relatively versatile ground wise. A mark of 148 probably isn’t beyond him but he is thoroughly exposed and it’s likely that he will be vulnerable in this field.
Bold Sir Brian was a progressive horse two seasons ago but a heavy fall in a Cheltenham handicap appeared to leave its mark and he hasn’t seen the track since April 2013. He may resume his progress at some stage (only an 8yo) but it would take some performance to take this after such a long layoff, for all that he used to run well fresh.
Conquisto won this race last year after a similar break off a mark of 150. He went off the boil after that which means that this year he is able to race off a 4lb lower mark. He is clearly suited by this trip and track and should go well again in a first time tongue-tie. However this year’s renewal looks a little deeper and things were made easier for him last year when favourite Walkon unseated 4 out.
Kie has been off since July but has won first time out before. He has done most of his winning over shorter trips but seemed to take the step up to 2m4f in his stride when winning at Worcester in June. However most of his wins have come in small fields where he has been able to dominate and whether he will be able to dictate matters with Uxizandre in the field remains to be seen.
Lucky William had some useful form as a novice but after more than two years off the track he was tailed off behind Simenon in a Grade 3 Hurdle in July and got no further than the 3rd fence in the PWC Champion Chase last time out. It is difficult to know how much ability he retains and all of his wins have come over shorter trips in any case.
Viva Colonia has twice run well here including when third in this race last year. He should strip fitter for a recent run on the flat but isn’t obviously well handicapped and life is made tougher by being 4lbs out of the handicap.
Conquisto looks sure to run his race and there may be more to come from Rolling Aces and Rajdhani Express. However the two to focus on are Uxizandre and MODULE. The former is greatly respected but he is unlikely to get an easy lead with Kie in the field and the absence of cheekpieces is a concern. Module has never won over this trip but several of his runs, including when staying on for third in last season’s Champion Chase, suggest that it is what he wants. He has the ability to run well fresh and he can defy top weight to win.
1pt win Module @ 11/2 with William Hill