Race Time: 4.30pm Meeting: Chepstow Day: Saturday 10th October
Distance: 2m 3f 100y Full Race Name: totepool Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
As we slowly start to wave goodbye to the flat season which is already drawing to a close, we can all look forward to the start of the National Hunt season “proper”, and we all know where that eventually takes us if we are really lucky.
Whoever wrote “all roads lead to Rome” clearly didn’t have an exciting novice hurdler in an up and coming yard on their hands, as we all know that they really lead to Prestbury Park and the Cheltenham Festival in March, four days of unbridled bliss, where over half a billion pounds will be wagered on the best horses on the planet over obstacles, and perhaps the odd Guinness or two will be drunk in the Irish Village?
The pilgrimage is so all consuming, so complete that pretty much every runner in every race of any consequence between now and then will raise expectations and suggest an aim for the four days – nothing else really matters throughout the season, and this £50,000 guaranteed two and a half mile handicap hurdle is no exception.
Chepstow is a Class One National Hunt track and anything that runs here does so with at least sensible delusions of a place in the Gloucestershire line ups. This particular race is one of the better early season contests and has seen winners go on to compete at the big one, with Shelford successful here last season for Dan Skelton before going on to run a respectable fifth to Killutagh Vic in the Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle on the Friday afternoon, and at odds of 25/1. Truth is, plenty of runners have gone on to race competitively in the big races with The Giant Bolster perhaps the best of them, fourth here in 2011 and runner up to Synchronised at odds of 50/1 in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but what about this particular renewal?
Our tip for the race is The Liquidator – trained by David Pipe, any racing fans with recognise him as one which went to Cheltenham back in March 2014 with chances in the Supreme Novices, sent off 12/1 behind Vautour. He ran well but not extremely well, finishing 12 lengths behind the winner, before being sent off the same price for the Champion Novice Hurdle 6 weeks later and finishing a similar distance behind Faugheen. he’s been off the track since then – we’re not entirely sure why but David Pipe was quite open that he took a “long time to get him right” after finishing 5th in the Tolworth and it’s likely there’s been some small blips along the way. The handicap has dropped him 5lb from his initial mark of 142 which gives him an extremely generous looking mark of 137 – this was a Grade 2 winning novice (at Cheltenham by 15 lengths no less) and he won the Champion Flat Race at Punchestown back in 2013. Assuming he’s fully revved up for the job this first try at 2m 3f is a great spot for him to start building back towards the big Cheltenham handicaps in March.