Jockey Charlie Deutsch admits a record-breaking third victory for Royale Pagaille in the Sky Bet Peter Marsh Handicap Chase at Haydock Park on Saturday (January 20th) would be up there with his breakthrough Grade One victory at the track in this season’s Betfair Chase.
The Venetia Williams-trained 10-year-old made it four wins from five appearances at the Merseyside track in November when accounting for his three rivals to gain a deserved first success at the top level.
Having been forced to miss an outing in last month’s Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton Park with a sore foot the gelded son of Blue Bresil will now bid to follow up his 2021 and 2022 victories in the extended three miles and one furlong Grade Two contest.
And despite Royale Pagaille set to race off a joint career high mark of 166 in the £100,000 Premier Handicap, the Grade One-winning rider is optimistic regarding his chances of securing a place in the record books.
Deutsch said: “I’ve not sat on him since the last day I rode him, but every day from what I see on the gallops he looks good and well. I’m looking forward to getting back on board him again.
“You would have to be optimistic about his chances if the meeting is on as we know he likes the track and hopefully he is in the same form as he was in the Betfair Chase.
“This will still be a test and take a bit of winning so he needs to be in good form as he is going to be giving a lot of weight away.
“I’d be very surprised at his age if he gets better again, but although it is easy to say now he has won his Grade One, but on Betfair Chase Day he definitely felt at his best.
“It would be great if he could win this for a third time, and it would be a similar performance to his one in the Betfair Chase as it takes a very good horse to carry that sort of weight to victory.”
With Royale Pagaille boasting such an impressive course record victory in the Betfair Chase might not have been a shock to some. However, Deutsch insists it was win that took him by surprise but one he feels that was thoroughly deserved.
He added: “I went into the Betfair Chase very open minded as we had a lot of work to do with some of the other horses in there.
“It was a nice surprise, and I was in a bit of shock afterwards as I never really thought about winning the race. I tried to make the best use of his strengths, but I didn’t think we would end up winning like we did.
“I suppose it was after jumping the last that I thought we could win. Up the straight we were going well, but I assumed Bravemansgame was still on the bridle and ready to take us.
“When I saw he was coming off the bridle it was then after jumping the last I thought we have got a chance here as I imagined Daryl (Jacob, on Bravemansgame) wanted to have me covered coming to the last. It was just a brilliant feeling winning that race.
“He has had some hard races, but I’ve always been in awe of him as these hard races don’t seem to put him off. A lot of horses think about it after they have had a few hard races.
“He has run in Grade Ones and these big handicap chases and he just wants to keep on going. He is a great character.”
Although Royale Pagaille is far from a one trick pony his record around Haydock Park is much better than anywhere else, something the Gloucestershire-based rider believes is down to the layout of the track playing to his strengths.
Deutsch added: “Haydock is quite a straightforward course with the two long straights, and he has a very high cruising speed which suits it.
“He likes going in straight lines opposed to undulations and going around lots of corners and bends. He can keep up that cruising speed for a long way which many other horses can’t.
“He beats the other horses with that relentless gallop and that appears to work very well at Haydock.”
Looking at future targets Deutsch believes that a fourth outing in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 15th could be on the cards for Royale Pagaille - but he insists his focus is primarily on this weekend first.
He added: “He is in the Gold Cup, and he has run well in it before. Hopefully with a bit of luck we can give it another good go later in the season, but we need to concentrate on this race first before we think about that.”
Royal Pagaille currently shares the record two Peter Marsh Chase victories with Jodami, who was successful in 1993 and 1997.