Past Winners » Top Gamble


I think that Top Gamble has a big chance of beating Dodging Bullets today.  I thought that he was over-priced at 5/1 yesterday when L’Ami Serge was also in the race and in the betting but, now that Nicky Henderson’s horse has been re-routed to Warwick, I think that Top Gamble is an even better bet at 5/2 with L’Ami Serge out of the race than he would have been at 5/1 with L’Ami Serge in it, if that makes sense.

Dodging Bullets is obviously a top class chaser, he is the Champion Chaser and he has 16lb and more in hand of his rivals today.  However, last year’s renewal of the Champion Chase was not the strongest ever, and he has had his issues.  We haven’t seen him since he won the Champion Chase last March, and it may have been a little bit of a rush to get him here today.  This is one of the last chances that Paul Nicholls has to get a run into him before Cheltenham.

It is almost certain that he will be short of peak fitness today.  The question is, how far short will he be.  He may well be significantly short, and that is a worry for him, especially on very soft ground.  As well as that, he has never been at his best on soft ground, even when he has been fully fit.

You can be sure that the Champion Chase is his objective this year, not the Game Spirit.  This is just a stepping stone.

He may well win, his class may see him through, even at less than full fitness, but, at odds-on, he is opposable.

Top Gamble has 16lb to find with the favourite on official ratings, and he is getting just 5lb from him, but there is every chance that he can find that.  Kerry Lee’s horse will be racing under optimum conditions.  Two miles, soft ground and ridden aggressively is ideal for him, a horse who just about stays an easy two and a half miles on good ground.  Also, the fact that he has won once and finished third once in two runs at Newbury is a bonus.

He ran a cracker last time at Cheltenham.  Trying to concede 9lb to the highly talented Village Vic over two miles and five furlongs on heavy ground, he looked a real threat as they rounded the home turn, but his stamina just ran out between the last two fences.

Back over two miles on his favoured soft ground, he can go forward as early as he likes.  In that regard, Richard Johnson is a top booking.  He is at his best when he is going forward, in a rhythm and eyeing up each fence in sequence, and he won on Top Gamble on the only occasion on which he has ridden him, at Ayr last April.

TOP GAMBLE WON (ADV 5/2, SP 11/10)