What are the best bets in the Novices' Handicap Chase?
17:30 The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, 2m41/2f
Last year’s 1-2-3-4: Irish Cavalier (11/1), Thomas Crapper, Generous Ransom, Horizontal Speed – 20 ran.
The Warren Greatrex-trained Aloomomo has been very progressive this season, winning three handicap chases on the bounce, culminating in victory at the Newbury Hennessy meeting (2m61/2f, soft), and warmed up for this when running as well as could be expected over hurdles at Ascot. He’s 11lb higher now than for his last but he’s only six and may have some further improvement n him. Top price: 13/2 Paddy Power NRNB.
Who else is fancied?
Recent form is pretty much essential with nine of the last 10 winners managing a top-three finish last time, which narrows the field down a bit – the fancied Bouvreuil (fifth), McKinley (sixth) and Ballyalton (fell) all fail on that score, Willow’s Saviour scooted up at Fakenham last time and looks progressive, while Double Shuffle made a winning handicap debut at Ludlow last time and has some smart novice form to his name too. The fact he was was ‘easily outpaced’ over 2m4f when finishing second to Art Mauresque here earlier this season is a slight concern, though.
Emma Lavelle’s Javert has won two of his three chase starts this term, unseating his rider in between, and the form of his latest success at Doncaster in December (2m3f, soft) looks strong as the 12-length second Fairy Rath has won since. A strong-travelling sort who jumps well in the main, he is one of several likely to appreciate better ground.
And the rest?
Winners of this race have been prominent in the betting with nine sent off at odds between 9/2 and 12/1 (all were in the first six in the betting), so it might not be too wise to go too far down the betting list. Still, this is a handicap and a compressed one at that, and they all have a chance. One that might go well amongst those at 20/1 or bigger is Henry de Bromhead’s Domesday Book, who was last seen finishing third of three behind Douvan. He’s been freshened up for this since and should be suited by the step up in trip and better ground.
Trainer quote: “He is a big, strong, laid-back individual and a good traveller. You can lose your race in the paddock at any course and especially at Cheltenham, as it is such an amphitheatre. Horses with a good temperament are at an advantage, because there is a lot of noise and excitement, and we have no worries on that score. He has been in great order at home and I can’t wait for Tuesday. The ground should be near perfect and I’m expecting a big run.”
Best bookie offer?
Paddy Power are refunding losing stakes on the second horse home as a free bet while Boylesports are refunding stakes in the same way if your horse finishes second to the SP favourite.
What’s the verdict?
I had my eye on a couple of progressive Irish-trained runners (Pairofbrowneyes in particular, make a note of him) near the foot of the weights but they didn’t make it in – it’s so hard to even get a run in these festival handicaps. So, I’m going back to my original ante post selection, the Emma Lavelle-trained JAVERT, for the reasons given. He’s not been seen since December but has been waiting for better ground and his trainer, who has not had the greatest of seasons, had a winner on Saturday. Sean Bowen, who has steered him to both his chase wins, is back on board.
SELECTION: Javert each-way @ 16/1 Boylesports NRNB & money back if 2nd