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Crus to face tough opposition in Argento Chase

Saturday’s Grade 2 Argento Chase at Cheltenham looks set to provide an acid test for Grand Crus and his connections in deciding whether or not the David Pipe-trained grey has what it takes to tackle Long Run and Kauto Star in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, or head instead for the RSA Chase for novices at the same Festival meeting, writes Elliot Slater.

The dashing seven-year-old finished a fine second to Big Buck’s in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Prestbury track last year before again chasing home Paul Nicholls’ outstanding staying hurdler at Aintree three weeks later. His transition to fences this season has seen the gelded son of Dom Alco rise very quickly to the top of the novice chasing tree and after three starts he remains unbeaten and he may look to upset the 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup betting in March.

The Argento Chase looks set to provide a very good guide as to just how far Pipe’s stable star could go up the chasing tree having won impressively at the track on his fencing bow in November before comfortably landing the odds at Newbury a couple of weeks later in a Grade 2 event. Stepped up to Grade 1 company to tackle the Feltham Novices Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, Tom Scudamore’s mount quickened well between the final two fences to see off the smart Silviniacio Conti and impress many good judges. Anyone tracking the Betfair Cheltenham market movers will have to keep an eye on him.

It was significant that Pipe mentioned the Gold Cup as being a possibility after the Kempton win, (his horse having already been made a hot favourite for the RSA Chase at the same meeting), and if he is to be seriously considered for the showcase event he will have to beat whichever horses turn up at Cheltenham this weekend from a line-up that may include Diamond Harry, Midnight Chase, Time For Rupert, Captain Chris and Hennessey Gold Cup winner Carruthers.

UK Horse Racing Tips

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