Mick Fitzgerald: Play Zanza each-way at Chepstow on Saturday

A course and distance winner in the valuable hurdle at 16.30 with the reigning champion jockey aboard? Be rude not to.

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It’s day two of the Chepstow meeting and the opening juvenile hurdle over 2m at 14.10 could be a case of who handles the soft ground best at Chepstow. Paul Nicholls’ Sir Psycho was trained by Eddie Harty in Ireland and was placed in a 1m 2f Leopardstown maiden and should handle the ground. Soft Summer Rain is a huge outsider but is an interesting runner as he should handle conditions.

The 2m handicap hurdle at 14.45 can go to Speed Company in what looks a tricky contest. He’s only run six times over hurdles, but is a typical Ian Williams’ improver. He’s well handicapped on his flat form. The Paul Nicholls-trained Diamond Guy will be popular after a wind op in the summer and shouldn’t be dismissed.

Ballyoptic is an interesting runner in the 3m Handicap Chase that follows at 15.20. He’s only 1lb higher than when pipped at Ayr in the 2018 Scottish National. He handles this ground and Nigel Twiston-Davies had a winner carrying plenty of weight on Friday. He has form on the soft and is a lively each-way play in a trappy event.

Colin Tizzard’s Reserve Tank is the favourite for the 2m 3f Listed Chase at 15.55 on the back of his Grade 1 hurdle wins at the Aintree and Punchestown festivals. He handles the ground and jockey Robbie Power says his jumping has been very good at home.

He should prove hard to beat.

The worry for Secret Investor is the ground, while Jarveys Plate is another who could struggle in it. However, Posh Trish ridden by Bryony Frost will love it and if there any chinks in Reserve Tank’s armour – she could be the one to take advantage.

In the handicap hurdle that follows at 16.30, Imperial Aura is a young horse that trainer Kim Bailey really likes, but this is a huge step up in class. Bailey feels he’s very capable, unexposed and open to improvement. Bold Plan looks progressive and he will handle conditions, while Flash the Steel represents the Skeltons.

However, Zanza was an easy winner over course and distance last season and looks to have a cracking each-way chance for Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson.

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The 2m 4f handicap chase at 17.05 has attracted some classy entrants, no more so than last year’s winner Charbel who should run a big race again, but the ground is a worry. Keep an eye on a market move for Activial. He goes well fresh and will handle conditions.

We close out the card and the Festival with a 2m bumper at 17.40. Paul Nicholls is hopeful he can strike with Glenlivet for owner Thomas Barr. He likes this son of Flemensfirth who will likely head the market – but keep an eye for any market moves as a few big stables are represented.

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