Nicky Henderson’s Chantry House makes his eagerly awaited chase debut in the opener at Ascot this afternoon. The Lambourn trainer has saddled the winner of this corresponding race for the last couple of years and Chantry House – who was last seen finishing third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham back in March – has always been considered a potential star over the larger obstacles. Last season’s Betfair Hurdle winner Pic D’Orhy has invaluable chase experience but he did not look a natural when beaten at Market Rasen.
Buzz finished third – beaten 3L – in the Welsh Champion Hurdle on his reappearance and will be all the rage on the 2m handicap hurdle given the form has been franked by both the winner Sceau Royal and runner up Ballyadam. Henderson’s 6-y-old is short enough, however, and the each way vote goes to the mare Rosie And Millie (2.40).
Michael Scudamore’s 7-y-old has only raced right-handed once but has often jumped right including at Wetherby on her reappearance when fourth in a listed contest. The third – Midnight’s Gift – did us a favour at Fakenham midweek and the handicapper has dropped the mare a couple of pounds. The ew recommendation gets further and I hope to see jockey Brendan Powell make plenty of use of his mount.
Favorito Buck’s won the 3m handicap chase on the card two years ago and is blinkered for the first time as he bids to follow up from a 1lb lower mark. That success was gained on good ground, however, and the ground was given at soft on Thursday morning.
My two against the field are Caltex and Onefortheroadtom (3.15) with preference for Harry Fry’s 7-year-old who ended last season on a winning note at Fakenham. The selection ran a cracker when fourth behind subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner The Conditional at Cheltenham on his reappearance 12 months ago and he remains 11lbs lower over fences than his hurdle rating.
Four of the five runners in the Intermediate Chase at Chepstow are returning from absences of 974, 643, 252 and 1016 days and the market should provide valuable clues as to their levels of fitness. Mr One More beat Summerville Boy as a novice hurdler and has the scope for fences. He is a fascinating runner despite not having seen the track since disappointing behind Vinndication back in the spring of 2018.
Antunes (1.05) was brushed aside by Good Boy Bobby at Bangor-on-Dee in a similar contest on his chase debut but has that run under his belt and gets the vote for the Skeltons. The selection will get further than 2m, but he promises to be a better chaser than hurdler and he goes well in deep ground. I Can’t Explain has his first start for Kim Bailey, but this winning pointer is another to keep a close eye on – if not today.
Faustinovick (2.00) travelled like much the best horse at Lingfield on his chase debut when fourth behind Gleno – followed up at Fakenham earlier in the week – over 3m last month and I hope to see Tom Scudamore make plenty of use of his mount back to the minimum trip. To start the horse over three miles was a mistake but he gets the each way vote in what looks a hot race.
The market leader will be Enzo D’Airy who would be carrying 5lbs more if this race took place tomorrow given he was raised 12lbs for his recent Stratford success, yet carries just a 7lb penalty today. That said I feel a bigger danger will come from Éclair D’Ainay who ran very well over hurdles for a long time over an additional half-mile at Carlisle last month. That form is strong, and he is entitled to come on for what was his first run in 670 days. He has the scope to jump a fence and the handicapper has seen fit to drop him 4lbs. Considering this fact, you can check out horse racing not on Gamstop and place your defining bet.
Sexy Lot (4.00) escapes a penalty for winning a conditional jockey’s event 12 days ago and David Pipe’s four-year-old would be 12lbs higher in the weights if this race were run on Saturday. Regular pilot David Noonan is back in the saddle – Tom Scudamore rides for Colin Tizzard – and the ground holds no terrors.
At Catterick Magna Morolia (12.38) can make it third time lucky having finished second in both juvenile hurdles to date. The selection ran a terrific race back on the flat on soft ground last time when beaten a length by Grade 1 winning hurdler Cornerstone Lad.