We mark the start of the UK jumps season at Chepstow on Friday and I’ll be there covering the full card for Sky Sports racing while ITV are showing the Grade 2 Persian War Novices Hurdle also.
The track had three inches of rain last week which means we should have perfect ground for the start of the winter jumps season.
Irish jockey Robbie ‘Puppy’ Power has moved to England to avoid having to quarantine and miss out on big rides in the UK so it means he will not be able to go back and forward to Ireland like he normally does.
The move tells you that the Tizzard team is well forward this year. Looking at the entries over the next two days they will surely figure among the winners.
We kick-off with a four-year-old handicap hurdle and lots of the top trainers are represented. It’s a really hot race. Vorashann posted a runaway success at Fontwell last week he carries 6lbs extra for that win but is due to go up 8lbs so is just ahead of the handicapper in this valuable contest. Blackout won nicely for Alan King having been bought from France last year, but blotted the copybook in the Fred Winter hurdle at the Festival though behind Langer Dan and some of the others.
The other of note is French recruit Running D’or, he was a good winner at Cannes Sur Mer and we just don’t know how good he is.
However, I am really keen on Paul Nicholls’ Thyme White who was very disappointing at Cheltenham last March, but prior to that had won the Scottish Triumph Hurdle at Musselburgh.
He is still well handicapped off a rating of 130.
McFabulous heads the weights and was very impressive in the EBF Final at Kempton last season but , the only concern with him is he took a good while to get his hurdling together and blotted his copybook at this track first time out last season.
Everglow is a fascinating runner for the Philip Hobbs’ team that won this last year with another hurdling debutant, Thyme Hill. Everglow looked very raw in his races and may lack the experience needed to win first time up, but is one to keep an eye on in the future.
One For The Team Came good at the back end of last season but looks like he takes a run to find top gear.
Getaround is a real flag bearer for his young trainer Ella Pickard and the handicapper has been impressed, rating him only 6lb behind McFabulous and gets 3lb off him now.
He could be the one to upset the likely favourite.
Jonjo O’Neill’s Soaring Glory didn’t have the run of the race at Ascot win finishing second to Israel Champ, but travels strongly in his races and looked really smart when winning bumpers At ascot and Warwick. He can regain the winning thread under Jonjo Jnr.
Bravemansgame finished behind Soaring Glory at Ascot while Numbers Man represents Team Tizzard who were successful at this meeting last year.
I love these veteran chase races. Joe Farrell and On Tour were placed in this last year and race off similar marks again.
Both will be on any short-list as they are pretty reliable. What A Moment was the subject of a mini gamble when he won after a layoff at Cheltenham, so watch for any market support.
Pingshou is a fascinating runner and has the most scope for improvement. He ended up on the floor at Wincanton in a decent race when going ok.
He is too dangerous to ignore.
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