The first race is a Novices’ Chase for horses aged four or five. It’s a disappointing field with only four runners going to post for this two-mile contest.
Bristol De Mai sets the standard on the back of his run at Uttoxeter where he chased home Garde La Victoire on his chasing debut. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge was keen in the early stages and did make a few jumping errors but those may have been schooled out of him. As we saw at the weekend Garde La Victoire was a winner of the Grade 2 Arkle Trial at Cheltenham, so his second to him wasn’t bad. His main danger is Karezak and on hurdles ratings he should be a few pounds clear.
Karezak makes his chasing debut for Alan King and was last seen finishing second to Devilment over hurdles at Cheltenham but he did finish ahead of Hargam. That run should get him fit for this and this is the path that the trainer was planning on sending him down because he doesn’t feel he’ll win many races over hurdles against some of the smart juveniles off his mark. He is a big, scopey type so should take to the larger obstacles but may be better having gained the experience.
The other two have plenty to find on what they have shown. Murrayana was second at Ludlow off this mark even with the 7lb claim of Sam Painting. That day Arzal was able to make all and Colin Tizzard’s runner jumped left. Ground won’t be an issue but will have to find another level of form, as will Sleepy Haven for Staffordshire trainer Jennie Candlish. He was well-beaten in a Novices’ Handicap Chase at Huntingdon only eight days ago but Peter Carberry may be given the licence to make the running with him, which would be interesting.
Bristol De Mai (WIN)
A trip to Ireland is next on the agenda with our second selection, which comes in a two-mile Novice Chase.
Damefirth was going to be the selection due to the fact that Henry De Bromhead’s horse are well-schooled and have a high completion rate. On top of that the last time we saw this horse he was third at Cheltenham in a conditionals jockeys race to Old Guard, who won the Greatwood Hurdle on Sunday, giving him some strong form in the book. Furthermore this six-year-old was a winner of a Beginners Chase at Clonmel in June by more than 9l suggesting this sort of race could suit him. The concern however is the ground – all of his form has come on good ground or better but currently the ground is described as soft to heavy, which may inconvenience him. He is a son of Flemensfirth, who handled soft ground, so he may handle it.
The vote goes to Topper Thornton who won a Beginners Chase on soft ground at Down Royal 19-days ago. He did make one or two errors but showed good fighting qualities when headed to re-rally and see off Noble Endeavor. That contest was ran over two-miles-four-furlongs, so with this testing ground his extra stamina could be crucial for him to see out the race. If able to replicate the Down Royal performance then he stands an outstanding chance here.
Paul Nolan’s I’m All You Need won a Beginners Chase three starts ago but has been over hurdles on his last two starts, so the return to fences could see him go better. He would have concerns about the ground with the pick of his form being on good ground. Balnagon Boy is an interesting runner. He was third to Sizing John last time in a Beginners Chase and on paper there are no horses like Sizing John lurking in this contest. He could be one to watch to see if there is any market support, especially because he has a win on heavy ground in a Maiden Hurdle he at Fairyhouse.
One other to mention is Patrick Griffin’s Captain Hox. This six-year-old has been contesting in England and Scotland of late with trips to Ayr and Hexham where he won two of his three starts in Novice Hurdle race – the second was to eventual Grade 2 winner Cyrus Darius. This is his first go over the larger obstacles an is one worth noting.
Topper Thornton (WIN)
The final selection comes at Chepstow for a Handicap Chase over two-miles-three-furlongs. There are only seven runners but it still an interesting little heat even though there isn’t a great each-way shape to the race there could be value against those prominent in the betting.
Toowoomba is the likely favourite for Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson. This seven-year-old will be returning from a 277-day absence, so may be worth taking on. He does have wins where there has been cut in the ground, so conditions should suit him and those two wins have been over two-miles-four-furlongs. However after his win at Wincanton connections said he didn’t enjoy the sticky ground therefore if shot in the market he may be worth taking on.
Victor Dartnall’s runners have looked to have needed the run that’s where the concern lies about Tolkeins Tango. His last win was over course and distance in December when easily beating Anay Turge and today he runs off just a 3lb higher mark. Conditions should suit him but he is likely to come on for the run.
Quite By Chance disappointed on his return at Exeter 15-days ago but in this sort of race he can make his presence felt. He was a winner in March at Taunton beating Makadamia off 118 and today runs off 119, so he is back to an enticing mark plus he has that fitness edge on his rivals, which should help him. Colin Tizzard has thrown plenty of darts of late but many of them seem to be finding the target. Aidan Coleman takes the ride and when this pair team up they are five winners from 26 runners in general but in chases they are three from ten, which gives backers confidence.
Quite By Chance (E/W if 9/2+)