Horse Racing: 3 runners to note at Chepstow as the UK’s jumps season kicks into gear

Timeform's Tony McFadden highlights three runners as the two-day Chepstow jumps meeting marks the start of the winter National Hunt season in the UK.

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

Progressive hurdlers line up in Friday’s contest

The two-mile handicap hurdle (16:00 on Friday) will be a race worth watching closely as, despite attracting only six runners, it features some promising sorts, headlined by Holly who has the Timeform large ‘P’ to denote that she is capable of much better form than she has shown.

Holly, a three-time bumper winner in France, shaped as if needing the run when only fifth on her hurdling debut and first start for Jonjo O’Neill at Uttoxeter, but she left that form well behind when bolting up at Wincanton on her next outing.

Holly looked something out of the ordinary as she cruised seven lengths clear in that maiden hurdle last December, and she is likely to prove better than this opening mark of 125.

She’s an exciting prospect, but this might not be a penalty kick as Nina The Terrier and Sonigino are also worth being positive about.

Nina The Terrier, an impressive winner on this card last season, signed off for the campaign by finishing runner-up in the Mares’ Final at Newbury on her handicap debut, while Sonigino looks potentially well treated based on the pick of his form.

Sonigino, a winner on two of his three starts over hurdles in France, ultimately proved frustrating during a winless campaign with Paul Nicholls last term, but he often shaped like a horse with ability and a summer on his back allied with a wind operation might help him fulfil his potential.

Sonigino was included among Timeform’s Fifty Horses To Follow for the jumps season with a view to him going chasing.

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Saint Segal looks handicapped to win

Saint Segal was only tenth in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but he shaped much better than that finishing position would suggest.

Saint Segal didn’t look at all out of his depth in that competitive event at Cheltenham, impressing with how he moved into contention on the run down the hill before ultimately paying the price for pulling too hard.

That was only the fourth start of Saint Segal’s career, so he is entitled to be more streetwise for the experience, and he remains with the potential to kick on again this term.

He has certainly made a promising start to his career as he won two of his first three starts either side of finishing runner-up in the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle behind the talented Porticello.

That runner-up effort in the Finale was achieved over the same course and distance as Saturday’s contest (16:37) and the unexposed Saint Segal looks like a big player from a handicap mark of 125.

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Note Paul Nicholls’ runner in Saturday’s bumper

The concluding bumper at Chepstow on Saturday has been won by some talented types in recent years, including McFabulous and Knappers Hill, both of whom went on to win the Grade 2 bumper at Aintree later in the campaign.

That duo are trained by Paul Nicholls, as is last year’s winner Timeforatune, who went on to strike at listed level, so it’s clear the champion jumps trainer likes to use this race as a stepping stone for a promising sort.

This year Nicholls had entered Byorderofthecourt, a £120,000 purchase after winning his only start in points (doesn’t run) and Pentire Head, who hails from a good jumps family and cost €145,000 as a three-year-old. Pentire Head is a brother to the useful Mount Mews who won a Grade 2 over hurdles, while the dam, Kneeland Lass, is a sister to the high-class chaser Burton Port.

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