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Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

Handicap debutants in first-time headgear have led to profits

Runners & Riders at Leopardstown

Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, 2m 4f, March 15, 5.30pm

Key Stat: Horses wearing new headgear have won or been placed in the last six years

Irish Cavalier won in first-time cheek-pieces last season year to continue a trend. But what you’re generally looking for is a progressive horse peaking at the right time with six of the last 11 winners making their handicap debut in the opening-day finale.

It’s also been prudent to latch onto last-time-out winners who have won five of the last seven contests. Class has also told as the top weight has won twice in the five years since horses rated over 140 were not allowed to take part.

Nicky Henderson won it with Rajdhani Express and has saddled three runners-up, while J P McManus also likes to have a contender or two mapped out for this handicap from an early stage and won with Reveillez in 2006. In addition, he has owned two runners-up.

Eight of the 11 winners had won at least one of their last two starts and, equally as interesting an aspect of winners’ profiles is that nine of the 11 winners failed to win on either of their first two chase starts further underlining the requirement to be on a progressive horse peaking at the right time.

But don’t dismiss maidens over fences. Finger Onthe Pulse recorded his first chase success in this race and a maiden over the larger obstacles has placed in each of the last six years including filling three of the first five positions home in 2012.

Class has also told as the top weight has won twice in the five years since horses rated over 140 were not allowed to take part.

What do you think?