The Novices’ Handicap Chase is a cracking little race and a competitive contest, with half of the field winning similar contests last time out.

I was taken with the way that DEMACHINE  travelled at Ascot last time - he looked full of running the whole way around, before powering away to win with comfort.

While he was rated higher than all bar one of the horses in that race, the manner of his performance was impressive, and he’s been put up 8lb for that.

His previous race, where he was successful at Uttoxeter, has worked out very well too. He should be very tough to beat.


If you thought the first race was a puzzle, then wait until you get stuck into this one.

Ch'tibello   is miles clear on ratings but the nine-year-old has only won four times in his career and does have heaps of weight to give away here.

Kateson  has reverted back to hurdles following a largely unsuccessful spell over fences and he got back to winning ways at Aintree last time out.

He goes well at Newbury and will be giving a forceful ride by Tom Scudamore. However, I would question the form of the Tom Lacey stable - he’s had winners this season, but they don’t seem to be firing on all cylinders.

While he was beaten last time out, GOOD MAN PAT   did have to concede weight all around. Some horses find that a near impossible task as carrying weight literally requires more lead in their saddle, and those who aren’t naturally stocky can struggle.

He ran very well at Cheltenham on his penultimate start and has next to no weight on his back in this race, especially with Alexander Thorne’s 5lb claim. I think he’ll run very well.


I’ve long been waiting for REDFORD ROAD   to go back to a longer trip and I get my wish over this festive period.

When you look at his hurdles form he’s got some terrific performances in the bag, including beating Shan Blue, who has won a Grade 1 Novice Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

He also won a very competitive race over 3m at Cheltenham last December. Obviously, he was a winner over 3m over hurdles, so you’d suspect he will stay 3m 2f over fences here.

I’m looking forward to seeing him try this trip over fences for the first time, especially off a lenient mark of 132.

Champagne Court  has threatened to win a race of this nature for a long time. He was fifth at Newbury in November, keeping on steadily at one pace.

He does have plenty of weight to carry, but he’s worth trying at this trip.


The final leg is a Novices’ Handicap Hurdle over 2m 4f.

LEGACY THOR   was an easy winner at Navan last time out and, on all known form, that sets the standard.

He’s proven at the trip and the underfoot conditions shouldn’t be a problem for him either. He has run in some above-average races in the past and performed with credit, always doing his best work towards the end of the race.

He’s made the running on each of his last few starts, so I suspect he’ll be ridden handy or even make the pace again.

Visionarian  is the least exposed in this field and has shown enough to suggest he’ll be able to win plenty of races on his three career starts. He was a good second last time and looked like he’d appreciate going up in trip.

Max Flamingo  may have also gone under the radar and I think he’ll run a nice race.

He is rated 114 so does have a little bit to find on official ratings, but his two seconds this season were full of promise. He also has the assistance of Aidan Kelly in the saddle, who claims another 7lb off his back.


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