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Betfred Mobile Hampton Novices’ Chase (Listed Race)
The better horses have stood their ground as hoped and this should be both a decent and an informative three-mile novice chase, and with winners of the calibre of Black Hercules last season the form could well be worth following in the long terms and in even better contests. Admittedly the Willie Mullins trained winner was the first favourite to score since back in 2007 when Gungadu won for Paul Nicholls but every winner in between has been at a single figure price so all is not lost. Dan Skelton regularly gets a mention these days and he has the likely winner here as well in Captain Chaos (12/1 Each Way) who will be ridden by Paddy Brennan. A decent enough novice hurdler who peaked at a rating of 143, connections always felt he would be much better over fences and although beaten eleven and a half lengths on his chasing debut at Ascot, that was a big ask on his first run for nine months while a few jumping errors hardly helped his chances.He is a big baby of a horse who can only get better with experience and will have been extensively schooled at home to put those mistakes behind him, leaving him as a solid chance this afternoon at a sensible price.
Harry Fry is a trainer in great form with a 29% strike rate in the last two weeks while jockey Noel Fehily is on 31% in the same timescale and the two of them pair up with American (4/1) who won his only race over fences so far at Exeter over this trip when seeing off Label Des Obeaux by two and a quarter lengths at level weights. He meets that rival on four pound worse terms now. That was his first run in eight months and he may possibly have that much more improvement to come, in which case there is every chance he can enhance his trainer’s reputation with a victory again this afternoon.
Retired trainer Martin Pipe had a superb record here and his son David has the best horse at the weights according to the official handicapper, all be it by only a pound. Champers On Ice (3/1) was way above average as a staying novice hurdler with a third to Yanworth and a two and three quarter length second to Unowhatimeanharry to his name, and he is a short priced favourite for the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Put away over the summer he made his debut over fences at Uttoxeter when winning by twenty-seven lengths despite a couple of mistakes which seemed to impress jockey Tom Scudamore who added “Champers On Ice did that well enough. He made a slight mistake at the same fence on both circuits, it possibly was because it came quite quickly on him out of the fog. He seemed to jump fences better than hurdles but he still has a bit to learn so I expect we will feel our way with him”, suggesting there is plenty more to come in which case he should go well again this afternoon.
Sticking with the in-form stables and Warren Greatrex is in good sorts again and he will be relying on Chef D’Oeuvre (16/1) who was not as good as some of these over hurdles but could better his past performances over the larger obstacles. Just the two runs over fences have seen him unseat behind More Buck’s at Fontwell when weakening rapidly on his first run in eight months but did a lot better stepped up in trip last time at Hereford over three miles and a furlong when a five length second to Mystical Knight who swept past at leisure but did finish eighteen lengths clear of the third suggesting he may well be able to win a race though as things stand this one looks beyond him on what we have seen so far.
Talking of Mystical Knight (7/2), Rebecca Curtis’ eight-year-old is pretty lightly raced for his age with just the four point-to-points he won two of them), a single bumper (which he won), three races over hurdles (winning two), and now one over fences, so just the nine starts in total, and only five under rules. Those who saw him win at Navan will have noted the quotes from Gearoid Costello who was representing Rebecca Curtis who said “He´ll make a lovely chaser next season. He quickened up really well, and came on a lot from the Warwick run last time” and added him to the notebook for his new career and thus collected when he scored at 5/2, though he will need to build on that to get involved here against these much better animals.