3.00 Challow Novices Hurdle, 2m4f Grade 1
CHAMP currently sits on top of the Cheltenham festival The Baring Bingham betting after dismantling an experienced field over this C&D the start of the month, he ran very fresh but still had tons in hand off a mark of 139, the form of the race has worked out very well with the 4th Man Of Plenty winning a listed Handicap, 6thPadleyourowncanoe winning a strong class 2 handicap, 7th Boite ran very well for a long way in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle and even the 13th horse Sussex Ranger was on top NTO. Champ was rated 150 after that performance and steps back into Novice company, he’s not only the highest rated in this race, but joint highest rated horse to contest in this race the last 10 years, he’s a very exciting prospect and one that looks likely to be praised for many years to come, especially over fences, but for now, he looks like he should mop up under the hurdle code.
Coolany the next highest in the field won the Grade 2 Hyde Novices Hurdle which didn’t look at all competitive and the time was very poor on fast ground, so for me is to be avoided, Nestor Park who was well beat in 6th did win a maiden NTO which isn’t bad looking for a maiden and looks likely to finish closer today.
Brewin’Upastorm the hardest to gauge for me, he was a huge gamble on hurdling debut and won in good style while clocking good figures, not sure he beat much in the process, the 2nd horse Brecon Hill rated 132 after race while carrying a 7lb penalty rates Brewin’Upastorm around the 131 mark so must improve another at least 19lbs to compete with Champ.
Kateson should be Champs biggest threat, he won a good-looking Novices event over this C&D off a 5lb penalty, him and the 2nd horse pulled well clear of the rest of the field and the 2nd horse Mr Pumblechook bolted up NTO in a maiden.
Alsa Mix the only mare in the field and for me the horse to follow in future races over further, she’s an unbeaten 3 from 3, even 4 from 4 if including her PTP victory, she has won on good ground before twice, so while not a inconvenience, she does at her best under testing conditions like when winning well LTO in the Grade 2 Ballymore Winter Novices Hurdle, that was Sandown on heavy ground, the less testing Newbury on predictably quick ground should see her unstuck IMO, but one I’ll be looking at closely for future races.
Getaway Trump completes the line-up, he’s won his last 2 races conclusively, he doesn’t look like his beat a lot while doing it, but he won’t mind what the ground says, the trip looks ideal and you simply can’t rule out any horse trained by Paul Nicholls right now.
Banker – Champ
Horse To Follow – Alsa Mix