An exciting handicap chase at Chepstow with a number of big names taking part, not least Irish Cavalier and Sire De Grugy. Both look high in the weights though, unlike ART MAURESQUE who won his last start and at 6 years old should progress in his second full season of chasing. He’ll need to improve again for champion trainer Paul Nicholls but with conditions to suit and a good record fresh he can make a perfect start to the season here.
1 SIRE DE GRUGY – The oldest horse in the field at 10 years old carries top weight of 11-12 with a handicap rating of 166. This is the first time in his sparkling 35 race career where he’s running at further than 2m 1f and according to his trainer “there is every chance he will need the race”. Good ground won’t necessarily suit either and despite being a Grade 1 winner there are better handicapped horses in this field.
2 IRISH CAVALIER – Finished last season with an impressive win at the Punchestown Festival over this distance off a mark of 153 and is effectively nine pounds higher here with Jonathan Moore now only able to claim 3lb. He was steadily progressive last season, running well in 4th at Aintree before falling at the last, but it’s questionable whether he’s well handicapped despite running well fresh last season.
3 ART MAURESQUE – Another who finished his season with a win, taking a Class 2 Handicap Chase off 144 by a head at Newton Abbot in May. He’s 6lb higher here and generally struggled off a mark in the high 140s last season, but he’s previously shown he goes well fresh and he’s only a six year old still so there is likely plenty more to come. He’s our tip to continue his progression at a good price against some more exposed rivals.
4 VOIX D’EAU – Won the Silver Trophy Chase at Cheltenham in April, beating Art Mauresque (who reopposes today on more favourable terms) but looked one paced when finishing 3rd at Haydock and could be that he wants further on last testing tracks. Another who was progressive last season, the ground should suit here and should go close.
5 JUNCTION FOURTEEN – The only runner in the field who ran over the summer competing at Galway’s summer festival, he only managed a well beaten 16th there. He did impress when winning at Sandown in April off 151 in a Novice Chase but needs to bounce back here in another competitive event.
6 DRESDEN – Had his best season yet when finding significant improvement to win back to back Class 2 Chases at Aintree and Ascot off marks of 135 and 144, but struggled off a revised mark on his next two starts. He ran well on his last start at Cheltenham to finish 7th and is a pound lower here today but hasn’t run since that day and jumped poorly at the last two fences when last racing here in February.
7 INDIAN STREAM – Off for 4 months before racing on Saturday (8th October) at Chepstow in the Class 2 Handicap chase where he was well beaten (20 lengths 8th) and unlikely to be turned out again after that run.
8 RED SPINNER – A lightly raced 6 year old, he was beaten at odds of 1/6 on in a 3 runner field on his last start in April by a horse rated 130 at the time. That wasn’t his true form, having finished 5th at Cheltenham off a mark of 143 (runs off 142 today) and he has an exciting 2nd season of chasing ahead of him. Could run well at a big price.
9 DOUBLE SHUFFLE – Trainer Tom George says he was “quite immature” last season and while he has grown over the summer “is one for the future”. He gets in off bottom weight here with his mark of 140 but he found things too tough off 138 at the Festival against other novices last time out and struggled off a similar mark at Ayr over this trip in this sort of company despite being sent off a short price, and he’s best watched for now.
10 SPLASH OF GINGE – One for Nigel Twiston-Davies and mentioned in his exclusive column which is well worth a read, and he’s got Sam Twiston-Davies riding for the first time since November 2014. A very promising Novice Chaser who was sent off just 14/1 for the JLT Novices Chase back in 2015, he had a nightmare campaign last season with just one place (a 3rd, beaten 49 lengths at Newbury) but his mark has fallen because of that. He runs from out of the handicap by 3lb here and needs to bounce back for his inform trainer.