Don Poli to underline Gold Cup claims in Lotto Chase at Aintree
The £40,000 Betfred Lotto Chase at Aintree on Saturday sees the eagerly awaited return of Don Poli, a leading contender for this season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The six-year-old gelding is one of several top candidates from the powerful stable of Willie Mullins in Ireland.
The son of Poliglote burst to the forefront of the Gold Cup betting when winning the Grade 1 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham festival meeting in March. He has his previous two races at Gowran Park and Leopardstown and beat Southfield Theatre by six lengths at Prestbury Park.
Don Poli was sent to Punchestown the following month but he may have been feeling his Cheltenham exertions as he faded tamely to finish last of five. The RSA Chase has a reputation for being a tough test for a young chaser and the spotlight will be on Don Poli to see if he can return to his best at Aintree.
Southfield Theatre ran a fine race at the festival but he also ran poorly on his next start when last of three at Sandown. He was very progressive for Paul Nicholls last season, winning at Chepstow, Worcester and Wincanton. Although he has won on the soft, the son of King’s Theatre would not the ground to get too deep.
Grand National winner Many Clouds was disappointing on his first run of the season when sixth of seven behind Cue Card at Wetherby in October.
Oliver Sherwood will have got plenty of work into the eight-year-old since then and a better display is expected at Aintree. He took his chance in the Gold Cup last year when finishing a remote sixth to Coneygree. Sherwood was against running him in the National but bowed to the wishes of owner Trevor Hemmings and the move proved to be inspired. All roads are likely to lead to the Grand National again this season but he may find the younger chasers too speedy on this sharper circuit.
The field is completed by Menorah, a ten-year-old gelding with thirteen wins from 36 career starts for Philip Hobbs. He pulled up at Wetherby last time out but is a high class chaser on his day. He has now collected over £570,000 of prize money for his owners and was a winner over the Mildmay fences back in 2012.
Don Poli 2.15 Aintree Saturday @2.10 Bet365