The time has come to get tuned into ‘proper racing’ as the jumps start to take centre-stage.
This two-day Chepstow meeting is the normal kick-off point for the stable stars of Paul Nicholls and Colin Tizzard’s power-house yards and we’ll be hearing plenty about the winners here over the next few months.
There is a few in here with racecourse experience over obstacles and a real good bumper horse from last season, so it’s a case of whether you take the safe option and go with experience – or take a punt on one like Thyme Hill – who looked like he was only going to get better with a summer behind him after finishing third in the Champion bumper.
I really like Philip Hobbs’ runner and he could be the one to take out of this race. Alan King’s Harambe could be the one to do best of those with hurdles experience. Colin Tizzard’s Fidlerontheroof cost 200,000 at the sales after his Navan bumper win and while he will have his supporters – that form is nowhere near as good as the selection, Thyme Hill.
Colin Tizzard runs a promising point-to-pointer Ofalltheginjoints, who won at Monksgrange and cost E75,000 at the sales.
Sir Valentine returns after a long lay-off while Flic Ou Voyou won twice at Wincanton last year for the champion trainer Paul Nicholls.
Proschema ran a hell of a race in the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle finishing third and has a Flat rating of 103. Add 45lbs to that for a jumps rating and that would set a very high standard of 148 over obstacles. He may have too much for this field if running to that mark.
Two of these – Truckers Lodge and Lisnagar Oscar – have already reached a rating of 140 or more while Ardlethen hovers on 139. He won a point-to-point and looks the type to do so much better over fences, as he is such a good jumper.
Truckers Lodge has already run over fences and will handle the conditions. However, Lisnagar Oscar sets the standard on his fifth in the Albert Bartlett and third to Champ at Aintree. Both were Grade One contests and that should be good enough if he takes to chasing.
There’s a few veterans in the field and The Young Master interests me, even though he is a lot higher in the ratings than when winning last season. This race is sponsored by Caroline Tisdall and she has two runners in Vieux Lion Rouge and Dell Arca.
The latter could be the answer as he was still going okay when falling at Listowel last month. He’s the selection but keep an eye on the market for Regal Encore whose had a wind op recently and is dropping down the weights all the time.
Scaramanga is the one that leaps off the page as he is a lovely, big, powerful horse and if Nicholls has him wound up for this – could be tasty here. I just worry that he may get pipped by King D’Argent who ran a hell of a race at the Festival when fourth in the Fred Winter. He had a wind op too so just gets the nod over Scaramanga.
Prettylittlething used to be ridden more forward over hurdles but was held up by 7lb claimer Miss Millie Wonnacott who excelled on her at Ffos Las after an absence – three runs ago.If ridden with restraint on Friday she can win again.
Two mares are closely matched on form – but not on price! KissesforKatie and Silver Forever met at Huntingdon where there was nothing between them. Silver Forever also beat Annie Mc in a point-to-point and that is strong form.
Kissesforkatie could be worth an each-way at the prices too.