The Cotswold Chase is designed for Gold Cup hopefuls to show they are worthy of lining up in the biggest race of the Cheltenham Festival in March. Going into the race, Elegant Escape was fancied to do that and book his place as an outsider in the Gold Cup. Although what he may have actually done is book his place in the 2019 Grand National instead.
We have already seen him stay on well to win the Welsh Grand National. He definitely has stamina for longer distances. If the Cotswold Chase is anything to go by, he needs to go back up to those extreme distances. He needs to run further than the three-mile trip we saw him run over last week.
He finished second to the Paul Nicholls trained Frodon in the Cotswold Chase. Although if he had another 100 yards to run there is every chance that he would have won. The Gold Cup is run over two furlongs more and had the race last weekend been ran over that distance, Elegant Escape would have been an easy winner. There is still a chance that he will go for the Gold Cup but plans have not been released by the Colin Tizzard yard yet.
“Tom gave him a beautiful ride. He was always in that lovely pocket with two horses in front,”
The words of trainer Colin Tizzard after the 3-1 favourite Elegant Escape won the 2018 Welsh Grand National in Chepstow.
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) December 28, 2018
The Cotswold Chase saw him outpaced during the early and middle part of the race. But towards the end, when others tired, his stamina came into play. It was a very similar pace seen in the Gold Cup. Plenty of horses like to make the running which could go against Elegant Escape. He appears to travel much better when those around him are going at a slightly slower gallop.
While the pace wouldn’t be that much slower in a Grand National he would have more time to settle. There is also his jumping, which is usually good but was put under pressure in the Cotswold Chase.
That wouldn’t happen in the Grand National. Usually what happens at Aintree is the horses set off at a pace far too quick. As a result, they take the first three or four obstacles before settling into a normal routine. This could be perfect for Elegant Escape.
He is already the clear ante-post favourite for the 2019 Grand National with odds around 14/1. However, he is middle of the pack for the Gold Cup at around 25/1 with at least 10 others ahead of him in the betting.