A typically deep novice hurdle for the track and it is CHANTRY HOUSE who is taken to build on his taking winning debut in this sphere at Cheltenham in December.
He looked a good prospect when winning a bumper on Rules debut last season, and duly confirmed that promise on hurdling debut, well positioned and knowing his job well, but leaving the impression that he would have won more comfortably in a more strongly-run race.
That form is solid, with the runner-up Stolen Silver – who goes in the Betfair Hurdle later on the card – and the fourth both winning their next starts, and Chantry House can confirm himself a smart prospect.
A case can be made for most of these but at the likely odds the most persuasive one is for VERSATILITY, who is still low mileage and gave the strong impression that the step up to three miles would really suit when sticking on for fourth at Ascot last time.
The return to a sounder surface will also help and he should give a good account of himself. In-form Anytime Will Do heads the list of dangers, while C&D winner Vive Le Roi is another well worth considering along with unexposed duo Ainchea and Thunderstruck.
ALTIOR’s extraordinary winning run came to an end on his return at Ascot in November, though he lost little in defeat up against perhaps the best horse he has faced over a trip that he isn’t proven at.
Altior has been given a good break since, Nicky Henderson reporting that the race took more out of him than was first thought, but the reports leading up to this race have been positive, and he will be incredibly hard to beat granted a clear round.
Dynamite Dollars is by far the most interesting of the opposition on his belated return.
This isn’t a strong renewal of the Denman Chase and NATIVE RIVER is a confident selection to record a third win in the race.
He didn’t have his conditions in his first two runs last season and perhaps went to the Gold Cup at Cheltenham a little undercooked, but he looked at least as good as ever on his seasonal return when winning the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree by 33 lengths, responding well to first-time blinkers.
Native River won this race in 2018 en route to success at Cheltenham and connections will be hoping he can repeat the feat.
The Betfair Hurdle has been dominated by novices in recent years and the one that tops the list this time around is the Willie Mullins-trained CIEL DE NEIGE. He remains a maiden over hurdles, but he finished third in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival from 3 lb lower last season, and again hit the frame from 1 lb lower in another competitive handicap in Ireland on his return in December.
Admittedly, he has since been turned over at prohibitive odds, but he is best not judged too harshly on that, short of room approaching two out, and he looks good value here.
Having shaped with plenty of promise on debut in this sphere at Aintree, PRESENT VALUE gets the nod. He wasn’t given a hard time once his chance was gone at Exeter next time and going back up in trip here looks a good move.
Mont Des Avaloirs is a much-respected main danger, while Post War also merits serious consideration on the back of an encouraging comeback run here in December.
ADRIMEL and Champagnesuperover both cruised to victories on their first bumper outing and look like classy prospects, so they may well dominate proceedings.
The first-named’s galloping style and extra experience (point winner) could give him the edge, while the likes of Wilde About Oscar and Brief Ambition won’t be far away if they take another step forward.