Our resident tipster likes a trio of runners at Chepstow this afternoon, including a 14/1 shot.
The Chepstow Jumps Festival which heralds the start of the jumps season proper continues this afternoon with an eight race card.
The 2m7f novice chase (2.45pm) has attracted a field of seven and all are making their seasonal reappearances, so we are guessing over their fitness. They include Beast Of Burden, a dual winner over hurdles for Rebecca Curtis last season who went off as short as 8/1 for the Neptune Novices’, and Paul Nicholls’ It’s A Close Call, who won two of his three starts last term, but I’d rather back SHUBAAT against them.
John Ferguson’s charge is the joint oldest runner at eight, but he has relatively few miles on the clock and was unbeaten in three starts over hurdles last season, culminating in a seven-length defeat of the hat-trick seeking Masterofdeception in a handicap over three miles at Southwell. That’s solid form but he has always looked more of a chaser and could reach even greater heights in this sphere. With his stable still firing on all cylinders after a golden run over the summer, he represents value at 13/2.
The 3m veterans’ handicap chase (5.00pm) features some familiar names, including 2014 Grand National winner Pineau De Re. He is likely to need his first run back, as will several others, but one horse who is capable of going well fresh is the Nick Williams-trained ALFIE SPINNER. He has been frustrating to back know to say the least with just one success in 20 starts over fences, but that did come in a novice chase here and he has been quite highly tried since.
Now a ten-year-old he qualifies for these type of races and his handicap has plummeted from a peak of 140 to today’s 123. He will surely take advantage of that in the coming weeks and it could be today against rivals who will be lacking peak fitness. The selection has been off for 227 days himself, but he invariably runs well on his first run back and will have the services of Richard Johnson for the first time.
Fitness will likely be a deciding factor in the feature 2m3f handicap chase (3.55pm). None of the nine runners have had a run and the likes of Present View, who is disputing favouritism, is possibly using this race as a prep for bigger targets later this autumn.
It could be worth then taking a chance on Philip Hobbs’ BALLYGARVEY at big odds. One of two for his stable, he has gone well fresh in the past, including when winning at Ascot on his reappearance last season after a break of over a year, and he’s just 3lb higher this afternoon. He’s won over fences here too and his stable is in top form, so it’s hard to resist a small interest at the 14/1 on offer.