Past Winners » Astracad


I think that Astracad is the most likely winner of the race by a fair way, and he is well over-priced for me at 5/1. Nigel Twiston-Davies’s horse finished sixth behind Menorah in the International Hurdle at this meeting last year, and he has shaped really nicely as a chaser this term so far.

After winning on his chasing bow at Perth in September, he didn’t run at all badly when third to two exciting novice chasing prospects in Champion Court and Saint Are at Aintree’s October meeting, and he ran out of his skin to get to within seven lengths of Al Ferof on his latest run four weeks ago, over more or less today’s course and distance.

It never looked like he was going to beat Al Ferof that day, but he wasn’t completely out-classed by him either, and the pair of them came clear of their field, which included the talented Court In Session.

He is a novice taking on handicappers today, but the small field should help, as should the fact that he has jumped well around Cheltenham already. He has plenty of experience of the track, and he won a handicap hurdle there last October. He is only five, he has significant scope for progression, and the handicapper has taken a serious chance by alotting him a mark of 138 for his handicap chase debut, a mark that is 2lb lower than his hurdles rating.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies horses are generally not at their best at this time of year and, true enough, he hasn’t had a winner from 32 runners in December so far, but his horses are not running poorly, he had a couple of horses run well in defeat over the last few days, so trainer form shouldn’t be a worry. What might be significant is the fact that this is the Jenny Mould Memorial Handicap Chase, and that Astracad is owned by Raymond Mould, so it may have been on Astracad’s radar for some time.