1pt forecast: 1st Top Gamble, 2nd Sizing Granite, 15:55 Fairyhouse, Tuesday

British Champion Jockey-elect Richard Johnson flies over for the ride on Kerry Lee’s Top Gamble, the 5/4 favourite for this Fairyhouse Grade 2 chase.

That’s a tip in itself, but the market’s seen it coming and he’s very short.

Top Gamble brushed aside 2015 Champion Chaser Dodging Bullets when last seen at Newbury, and the defeated horse’s trainer Paul Nicholls had few excuses despite it being his belated seasonal bow.

Dodging Bullets ran no race in the Champion Chase, finishing 27 lengths behind Sprinter Sacre, so it’d be dangerous to rate his scalp too highly.

His getting to within four lengths of Village Vic when giving him 12lb the start before is probably a better indicator of his class – but how does it rate next to the achievements of the field?

Flemenstar fortunately won a Grade 1 at Christmas thanks to the fall of Un De Sceaux, pushed Felix Younger close next time out and got thrashed 100l by Silviniaco Conti at Ascot on his last start.

The last time was more of a stayers race, so he can be forgiven that, but Felix Younger was totally outclassed in the Champion Chase and I reckon, besides the novices, the Irish two-mile chasers are not a good bunch.

That comment would include Sizing Granite too, and he’s another who ran no race in the Champion Chase and I’d be very cautious about backing him after such a poor display of jumping.

He clattered the first fence at Cheltenham and that’ll cost you your chance at most grades, but the question is whether the better ground will sharpen it up to bring him back to the level of his Grade 1 novice win at Aintree last season.

It’s still predominantly soft, but he’s got a decent chance.

Twinlight won this last year, but that was a shocking renewal with just three runners, and he didn’t look to have many excuses when going down seven lengths to Days Hotel – who also runs – last time out at Naas.

Days Hotel has been a big drifter today and can be backed at 10/1 with Coral; he might be the value bet for a place.

The more I look at the race the less I rate the Irish old guard and think this is between Top Gamble and the other eight-year-old, Sizing Granite.

The former has much the best form and there might be some value in the forecast, backing Top Gamble to win from Sizing Granite – if he can put in a clear round!

1pt forecast: 1st Top Gamble, 2nd Sizing Granite, 15:55 Fairyhouse, Tuesday

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