Published 8th February
TOPOFTHEGAME is built to excel over fences and can have his big day in the sun in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase.
Paul Nicholls’s 7yo was hugely progressive over hurdles last season, winning the Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown and going oh so close under a big weight in the Coral Cup, caught on the run-in and beaten a neck by Bleu Berry.
That was a terrific performance in defeat, with the winner and third-placed Barra delivering their challenges from well off the pace whereas Topofthegame had been nearer the sharp end throughout and in front from the second-last.
As expected he’s made a pleasing transition to fences, performing a minor miracle to finish second to race-fit Defi Du Seuil on reappearance at Exeter (having uncharacteristically whipped round at the start and soon detached) and filling the same spot behind La Bague Au Roi in the Kauto Star at Kempton.
He’s made a pleasing transition to fences, performing a minor miracle to finish second to race-fit Defi Du Seuil on reappearance at Exeter and filling the same spot behind La Bague Au Roi in the Kauto Star at Kempton.
The form of both races has been well advertised, Defi Du Seuil winning the Scilly Isles at Sandown and La Bague Au Roi, who was in receipt of the 7lb mares’ allowance, landing the Grade 1 Flogas at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Furthermore despite his good runs at Kempton (he also finished a close fourth in last year’s Lanzarote), it’s not his ideal track as big, galloping courses suit his physique better, so additional improvement can be expected at Cheltenham.
Those two have also translated their high-class hurdles form to fences - Santini scoring at Newbury and finishing a staying-on third in the Kauto Star, while Delta Work is unbeaten in three chase starts including two Grade 1s at Leopardstown.