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Novices' Handicap Chase tips for Tuesday's Listed race. One of the most difficult races of the Festival, trying to pick apart novice form from those a little below graded level, it's always a hugely competitive contest. Read on for our free betting tips, predictions and analysis.
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Connections of LE ROCHER will have been doing their rain dance for the last week and to good effect. Conditions are going to suit their horse perfectly, the heavier the better for him. He was a Grade 1 winner in his youth, showing signs in the last year that there still remains an awful lot of ability. He looks massively overpriced. Any Second Now could be thrown in on his Graded novice form so far this season, taking on the likes of Footpad and Monalee, he rates the biggest danger. Mister Whittaker looks a big player having snuck in at the bottom of the weights, while both Barney Dwan and Livelovelaugh needs respect.
Testify | J: Will Kennedy T: Donald McCain
Unbeaten in three chase starts, though he has only beaten seven rivals across those three runs combined. The rain has come right for him producing the ground that he wants, with his wins showing off a huge engine. This will be a very different test with so many more runners which is something he has to prove he can handle.
Any Second Now | J: Mark Walsh T: T. M. Walsh, Ireland
Kept very warm company on his chase starts thus far, chasing home Footpad twice, Monalee and Invitation Only on his four outings. Meets nothing of that calibre down in a handicap with a rating that looks on the generous side getting him in. Big player.
Tycoon Prince | J: J. W. Kennedy T: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Very well thought of in his younger years, he was an impressive winner over Christmas. This trip should be perfect for him but his very best had come with a little less cut in the ground. Still requires consideration on handicap debut in this sphere.
Le Rocher | J: Tom Scudamore T: Nick Williams
The more it rains, the better he is. A Grade 1 winner over hurdles in his youth on desperate ground, the conditions are playing to his strengths. Still in front when a stopping blunder two out cost him the race last time, he’ll need to cut out any mistakes but well treated on his best form. Looks massively overpriced.
Demi Sang | J: Barry Geraghty T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
Only young, well and truly found out in a Grade 1 last time, returned to calmer waters here. Soft ground is no concern and should improve for the step up in trip, but his opening mark is no easy one, rather weighted on the names beside him in the racecard than what he has achieved.
Conrad Hastings | J: Dylan Robinson T: Henry de Bromhead, Ireland
Progressed well last summer over fences when the ground was quick, his form has fallen off a cliff the last twice with deep conditions. Very soft ground to contend with again here so others make considerably more appeal.
Barney Dwan | J: Noel Fehily T: Fergal O'Brien
Has begun to get the hang of chasing of late, with wins at Market Rasen and Musselburgh. The latter rather fell apart around him with late fallers, but he was placed in the Pertemps Final last season from this mark and the ground will place emphasis on stamina so not dismissed.
Rather Be | J: Jeremiah McGrath T: Nicky Henderson
Debatable what he’s actually achieved over fences so far, neither win coming in races of any great class. Won at Aintree last April so a big field is no problem but this is going to be the stiffest test of stamina so far in his career. That leaves him with a shade to prove.
De Plotting Shed | J: Davy Russell T: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Handicapped on his heavy ground chase form, he’s half a stone below his hurdles rating. No surprise to see him be well backed for this antepost as it’s certainly a tempting mark. Acts on soft but his very best has come on decent ground so a more ‘typical’ Festival surface would have been preferred.
Rocklander | J: A. P. Heskin T: Tom George
Decent staying hurdler, it’s that stamina that has won him races. Soft ground is perfect for him and at least this will be run at a fair enough pace to bring stamina into play, but he would have appealed much more over a longer trip than this.
Divine Spear | J: Nico de Boinville T: Nicky Henderson
Visually impressive when landing an Ascot handicap in December, he was rather flat at Musselburgh last time. Pulled out on heavy ground in between those so ever softening conditions may not be ideal for all that he does possess the potential for better.
Western Miller | J: Jonathan Burke T: Charlie Longsdon
Hit hard for finishing second at Sandown in December, he has got his work cut out now. Deep ground is no help to him, with his best form all shown at a lower level than this. Easy to discard.
Ibis Du Rheu | J: Sam Twiston-Davies T: Paul Nicholls
Winner of the Martin Pipe at the 2016 Festival, he has not looked a natural chaser so far. Travelled well to a point over further last time out, the return to this trip could suit him, but needs to step up massively on his chase form to play more than a minor role.
Jameson | J: Tom Bellamy T: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Got the better of Western Miller at Sandown in November, he has been outclassed the last twice. He is another who has shown his very best on a sound surface and although he acts on soft ground, it’s hard to see him winning this from eleven pounds higher than Sandown on such a deep surface.
Report To Base | J: Adam Wedge T: Evan Williams
Deep ground is very much in his favour, though a nine pound rise for winning a Hereford novice even last time looks harsh. Open to better after just eight starts under rules, but others have more pressing claims from their current marks.
Livelovelaugh | J: R. Walsh T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
Stopped quickly late on in a Grade 3 when last seen, the drop back from three miles looks the right move on that. Deep conditions are no concern having won on heavy in the past and wasn’t beaten far in a handicap from four pounds lower last April. Each way shout.
Markov | J: Daryl Jacob T: Ben Pauling
Taking win in December over fences at Doncaster, not the first time that he has run well at that track. He will find underfoot conditions here chalk and cheese to that day so although this stiffer test should suit, very deep ground is a sizeable negative for him to overcome.
Ballyhill | J: Jamie Bargary T: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Can be a bit feast or famine, fluent winner here on New Year’s Day but a massive flop on heavy ground last time. The form of his January win would give him sound claims off this mark, but he isn’t the easiest to fully trust.
Kayf Adventure | J: Richard Johnson T: Philip Hobbs
Twice a winner on heavy ground this season, he will have no issues if the rain continues to fall. Beaten the last twice from a pound higher in weaker contests than this however suggests that the handicapper has his measure for now.
Mister Whitaker | J: Brian Hughes T: Mick Channon
Impressive winner at this track in January, pulling well clear with the runner-up who has placed in a big Saturday handicap since. Conditions will be issue for him, with the way he came up that hill looking as if he still has plenty in the tank. Big player having snuck in at the bottom of the weights.
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