Past Winners » Sam Winner


I think that Sam Winner is the most likely winner of this race, and I think that he is a fair bit over-priced at 8/1.

A high-class juvenile hurdler – remember that Ruby Walsh chose to ride him in front of the winner Zarkandar in the 2011 Triumph Hurdle – Paul Nicholls’ horse was one of the top staying novice chasers last season. He beat Le Bec and Shutthefrontdoor in a three-mile contest at Cheltenham in December, and he was only just beaten by subsequent RSA Chase runner-up Smad Place at Newbury in February.

I thought that he would run in the National Hunt Chase over four miles at the Cheltenham Festival, but he ran in the RSA Chase instead, and he performed creditably in finishing fifth, staying on well up the hill. You can forgive him his run in the Scottish National on his final run at the end of a long season.

He has always shaped like a real stayer, so the step up to three miles three and a half furlongs today should bring about improvement. He does have a big weight, he has to give weight away to all his rivals, but he is classy, and his rating of 147 may under-estimate his ability. He is only seven, he has raced just seven times over fences in his life, and he still has scope to progress further.

His best form is admittedly on good ground, but it was soft when he ran that big race at Newbury last February to chase home Smad Place, and he finished second three times in France on soft ground. He loves Cheltenham, he has won three times there, and he can go well fresh. Paul Nicholls’ horses are in good form, and all looks set for a big run.

There are lots of dangers. I do like The Druids Nephew, and he should be better going left-handed today than he was going right-handed at Huntingdon last time, but he got 9lb for that Huntingdon win, which was fairly harsh, he still has to prove his stamina for this type of trip, and he is shorter than I thought he would be.

The Package is interesting, he goes well fresh and his form with Holywell and Ma Filleule looks even better now than it did at the time, and I can see Cape Tribulation and Gevrey Chambertin go well at big prices, but Sam Winner is the bet.