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2012 Pulteney Land Investments Novices' Handicap Chase Review
HUNT BALL was by far the most improved chaser in the 2011-12 National Hunt season and he was recording his seventh success in this contest at odds of 13/2 – he was clear favourite at that price.
The Kieren Burke-trained gelding was rated 68 when winning a Folkestone handicap in the November of that season and was scoring off 142 here, shrugging off the steadier of 12st in the process.
Nicky Henderson's Cucumber Run set a strong pace and had a sizeable lead going out on to the final circuit, but his effort began to tell turning for home at which point Vino Griego took over the lead, with Hunt Ball going well in behind.
His jockey Nick Scholfield was clearly biding his time and having taken the seven-year-old to the front approaching the last, the partnership put the race to bed in a matter of strides, with White Star Line (14/1) running on well for second.
2011 Centenary Novices Handicap Chase Review
Ferdy Murphy nominated DIVERS as being his best chance of a winner at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival and sure enough, the superstar landed the Centenary Novices’ Chase.
The seven-year-old landed the handicap showpiece with a two-and-three-quarter length victory over Quantitativeeasing.
The two-and-a-half mile contest was run at a frenetic pace and Divers stayed on relentlessly despite the gallop.
He even made a mistake at the third last but, given a masterly ride by jockey Graham Lee, was soon on an even keel and quickened effectively after the final fence.
It was Murphy’s tenth Cheltenham Festival winner and was the result of a plan a year in the making.
2010 Jewson Novices Chase Review
A fierce, end to end gallop meant this field of novice chasers was well strung out by the time the leaders turned for home and only a handful were in contention going to the last.
Remarkably, the three to fill the places all ran at last seasons Festival and it was the Supreme Novices fourth, COPPER BLEU, who eventually prevailed. He clearly relishes the combination of large fields and decent ground and he picked his rivals off one by one after Richard Johnson made his move approaching three out. He had no trouble staying the trip (which he was tackling for the first time), but may be hard to place after the handicapper has his say. However, he has won a point to point in the past and so may find further improvement over three miles.
Othermix had some decent form in France before moving to Tom Georges yard and the fitting of blinkers for the first time here seemed to do the trick. Hes still a novice over fences and connections may decide to preserve that status until next season.
The Midnight Club was a never nearer third. Hell clearly improve for a step up in trip, but it was encouraging to see him perform so well on this quicker ground. Extreme distances could prove to suit him in time and he could be a National horse.
China Rock has always preferred better ground than he tends to encounter in his native Ireland so it was no surprise to see him put in a seasons best effort here. He carried a few pounds more than the three that finished in front of him here so this was a fine performance.
Seven Is My Number headed the weights and so did well to claim sixth. Hes a bit inconsistent, but is very good on his day. He stays further than this.
Fiendish Flame deserves a lot of credit for his effort too as he was in the firing line for much of the race. He loves to lead and so may prove more effective on flatter tracks.
Hey Big Spender appeared to be unlucky. He had been progressive over fences in four previous outings and had valuable form over this course and distance already. Still travelling strongly bang in contention, he departed when looking to have every chance, although it was too far out to know how he would have fared in the final outcome.
2009 Jewson Novices Chase Review
Again, the ground had dried out fractionally from the day before, but it was still officially good to soft.
For such a competitive looking handicap on paper, and despite the huge field, there were very few in this from quite some way out. In fact, turning for home the race appeared to be down a match between CHAPOTURGEON and Crescent Island, and so it proved with the former comfortably on top at the death and the latter weakening and losing second place close home.
The winner clearly runs well fresh and is likely to be aimed at the big handicaps run round here next season, starting with the Paddy Power Gold Cup. The handicapper will obviously have his say before then though and winning in such style may not have done him any favours in the long run.
Having fluffed the second last to give his pursuers hope, Chapoturgeon pinged the last to give the impression there was plenty left in the tank.
Isn’t That Lucky was the one to stay on into second. He was given a patient ride out the back and was possibly given too much to d,o although in fairness his rider probably wouldn’t have expected the winner to shoot clear as emphatically as he did. He is lightly raced and is clearly suited by these fast run handicaps. He has time on his side.
Crescent Island put up a bold showing for a long way and was unlucky to lose the runners up spot on the run in. He relished the underfoot conditions and seemed to improve for the first time blinkers.
The rest came home at regular intervals, with Northern Alliance next in a never nearer fourth. He was another who improved on the better ground.
Former top class hurdler, Straw Bear, posted his best effort over fences to date, finishing fifth. He didn’t seem to quite get home over this trip, having looked a danger running down the hill.
Tranquil Sea (sixth) was let down by his jumping, but was another to stay on well when the race was over. He is highly regarded, and was a very useful novice hurdler, and so may have more to offer.
Astarador (eighth) is clearly better going the other way around, whilst Slash And Burn (ninth) finished tamely after travelling well for a long way.
2008 Jewson Novices Chase Review
Due to the rescheduling of races caused by the abandonment of day two of the Festival, this race was run over half a furlong less than it would have been on the New Course, placing a little less emphasis on stamina.
A hugely competitive looking handicap on paper proved to be exactly that with the first seven home separated by just over 6 lengths.
Victory for FINGER ONTHE PULSE brought back memories of Kicking King’s Gold Cup success in the same colours a few years ago and whilst Tom Taaffe’s seven year old might not reach quite those heights over fences, this was a useful effort and there are more good races to be won with him as he should stay further in due course. Although he looked to be idling slightly in front, he did well to hang on having taken up the running some way out.
Barbers Shop looks every inch the chaser and has had a good season. He can also improve with time and could be worth following next year.
The same is true of the third, Possol, who had decent form in France and is probably only now starting to settle properly into his new surroundings. His cause wasn’t helped by being hampered by a faller early on.
Fleet Street (fourth) has been lightly raced since finishing third in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle four years ago. He was tackling this sort of trip for only the second time and on this evidence he is well worth another try over it. Although he is still only nine, connections have probably been left wondering what might have been had his career not been plighted by setbacks. He ran on really gamely here, having come under pressure a long way out.
Ambobo was staying on strongly when clouting the last, which put paid to his chances, whilst Big Bucks is the other one to take out of the race having run a cracker under top weight. He’ll stay further in due course and could be a lively Gold Cup outsider next season.
2007 Jewson Novices Chase Review
Trainer Ferdy Murphy’s superb recent record with big price, staying chasers at the Festival was further enhanced by victory for L’ANTARTIQUE in the opener on day three.
The field was well strung out in the end as a result of the furious early pace and the performance of the winner was even more impressive for the fact that he had to endure a troubled passage for much of the way, most notably when being hampered by the departure of Pole Star at the eleventh, where he lost all momentum. He had been consistent rather than spectacular in his starts over fences before today, but benefited from the improvement in the ground. He was also given an excellent waiting ride by his top class jockey, Graham Lee, and a further step up in trip may bring about more improvement in the future.
Bob Hall ran a cracker in second on only his fourth start over fences. He had some excellent form over hurdles in Ireland last season before being switched to Jonjo O’Neill’s yard for this campaign. Being so lightly raced he is open to any amount of improvement, and may be another one for whom a step up in trip would suit.
Wee Robbie has always been highly regarded by connections and he put up a career best effort here to finish third. He is still a novice over fences and if he retains that status next season he should be able to run up a sequence.
Rasharrow was fourth. He was both a top class bumper horse and novice hurdler in the past, and this was his third good race at the Festival. The fast pace of these championship races seems to suit him, as does some decent ground. However, given his consistency over the years the handicapper is unlikely to make life easy for him in the future.
The two best backed horses in the race were both big disappointments. New Little Bric was many people’s handicap banker of the meeting and his supporters did at least get a run for their money as he was there or thereabouts for much of the race. However, he came under pressure turning for home and there was little response. He faded to finish seventh and is likely to be put away for the season.
By contrast, King Revo never gave his backers any hope. He wasn’t helped by some sloppy jumping.
The same is true of Knight Legend whose career over fences to date has been blighted by serious jumping errors. He has ability, though, and could pop up at a big price in a decent race if he improves his fencing.
Limited Edition was still travelling well when crashing out at the third last. It was too far out to say what would have happened had he stood up but he is definitely one to keep an eye on.
2006 Jewson Novices Chase Review
The Cheltenham Festival wouldn’t be the same without JP McManus landing one of his monster gambles and REVEILLEZ was backed down from 6-1 to 9-2, including one bet of £100,000 at 6-1, before taking the second running of this event for his Irish owner.
Trainer James Fanshawe is much better known for his exploits on the Flat but punters would be well advised to sit up and take notice when he switches one to the National Hunt arena – he has already won the Champion Hurdle twice.
Jockey Tony McCoy also had extra reason to celebrate as this was his first Festival success as retained rider for McManus.
There were concerns about Reveillez’s jumping coming into the race, but extensive schooling, the brilliance of his pilot and the better ground all seemed to improve his fencing, and last season’s Sun Alliance Hurdle fourth seemed to win this race with plenty in hand.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup in November could be a long term target.
The winner and runner up, Copsdale Lad, pulled nicely clear of the third, suggesting that the front two could both be worth following.
Copsdale Lad was unfortunate to remain a novice after his exploits last season when he could easily have won this race but for being brought down when still travelling strongly. He put his added experience to good use here, but must have decent ground and a left handed track to be at his best.
Tumbling Dice also ran well at last year’s Festival, finishing third in the Coral Cup. He may need further in time and is very highly regarded by his shrewd connections.
Direct Flight ran a blinder at big odds in fourth, whilst Le Volfini would surely have made the frame had he not fallen three out. At least this effort shows he acts on quick, as well as soft, ground.
Preacher Boy was another casualty. He didn’t particularly shine here but could still be interesting if stepped up significantly in trip next season, provided his jumping improves.
Celtic Son was another Martin Pipe trained flop and is surely better than he showed here.