Tote Win: £0.00 Tote Place: ££2.20,£1.50,£1.10
Straight Forecast: £0.00 Exacta: £0.00 Trifecta: £0.00 Swingers: 1&2:£3.20 2&3:£1.60 1&3:£2.90
Placepot: £80.60, Pool: £149655.31, 1354.01 winning tickets
Quadpot: £18.20, Pool: £12901.15, 522.7 winning tickets
No Master Minded and no established superstar but there was a good field and two promising chasers in Finian's Rainbow and the novice Al Ferof who were open to any amount of improvement. However, it was the 'old boy' SOMERSBY - a year younger than Finian's Rainbow but much more experienced - who gained an overdue first Grade One success. Quite what this says for the form of the race is open to question as he had, arguably, been disappointing on his last two starts but this track does bring out the best in him as he'd been placed on all three previous visits, including in this race last year. The tongue-tie that he wore in the King George was dispensed with while the cheekpieces were a new addition and must be considered to have made the difference for all that he possessed the highest BHA rating in the field and could, thus, be viewed as being entitled to win. He travelled well again but this time there was an end product and he was well on top at the line. The Ryanair Chase remains the target and the logical option given that Somersby had appeared to be struggling in last year's Champion Chase. That remains the only time that he has finished out of the frame in four runs at Cheltenham, including three at the Festival but he makes no appeal at around 7-1 to actually win the two mile five contest given that he didn't need to improve to win here. For all that, it was marvellous to see a horse who has promised so much as a youngster gain a big win for two of the game's most popular and enduring figures and he may yet be able to raise his game. Barry Geraghty was looking round approaching the last and gave the impression that he had plenty of horse underneath him only to be outbattled after the last with no obvious excuses. Finian's Rainbow has settled far better in his two starts this year than he did last year and connections feel that he may require further now and he's in both the Ryanair and the Gold Cup. That would be an intriguing move but not an entirely obvious one given that he appeared to be outstayed rather than done for speed. Despite being beaten, this was a career best performance from the lightly raced nine year old but one that appears to expose his limitations in this division as it's hard to envisage him beating either Sizing Europe or Big Zeb on this evidence despite their advancing years. Arguably the most taking performance was that of Al Ferof on just his third chase start and he's definitely one for whom a longer trip will bring out the best. He made a couple of mistakes when the tempo quickened at the business end which should have taught him a great deal and there was plenty to like about the way that he kept on after the last. Stamina often wins the day in the Arkle and it's not difficult to envisage a repeat of the Supreme Novices' where he finished fast and late to pass Sprinter Sacre and Cue Card although he could, of course, have Peddlers Cross to contend with too. Forpadydeplasterer ran a solid race having taken them along at a steady pace (the time was around 5 seconds slower than last year's renewal on similar ground) and this is as good as he is now. Gauvain was the first to inject some pace and looked to be struggling when taking a heavy fall; this was a backwards step in what has been a fruitful season. The disappointment was Wishfull Thinking who'd taken a step in the right direction when running Finian's Rainbow close last time but he never featured and has plenty to prove now. He's had trouble with his breathing in the past and perhaps there's something still troubling him. It was an interesting run from I'm So Lucky who appeared to show a little more than he had done last season or on his reappearance. However, not only will he need to build on this but he'll also need to come down a few pounds in the handicap before he's winning again. That is also true of Oiseau De Nuit but the handicapper may not be so inclined given his good run at Kempton on his penultimate start.