News Weatherbys Novices’ Chase

Weatherbys Novices’ Chase


Seven horses have been declared for the Weatherbys Novices’ Chase, a race which forms part of day one from Lingfield’s inaugural Winter Million fixture, and with all seven rated between 132 and 140, it looks a competitive contest.

With Threeunderthrufive winning in Grade 2 company at Warwick last weekend (originally held an entry here, too), it is Broken Halo who represents trainer Paul Nicholls and he heads to Lingfield on the back of a 19-length success in heavy ground at Exeter. He made all, jumped well and recorded a comprehensive win, in an uncomplicated manner. Rated 127 when winning that novices’ handicap, his earlier third at Chepstow also reads well (winner won again since and second has run well in defeat twice) and with conditions to suit, he looks capable of putting up a bold show, although he does need to prove his stamina at this trip.
Fantastikas was an impressive winner over course-and-distance on his chasing debut and following his second placing behind the aforementioned Threeunderthrufive in a Grade 2 at Doncaster, he finished third behind L’Homme Presse in the Dipper at Cheltenham. Going back up in distance is certainly a positive and although heavy ground is an unknown, he has coped with soft in the past. He looks quite solid and his chance looks an obvious one.
The Dan Skelton-trained Midnight River (pictured left) also boasts plenty of soft-ground form and on natural ability alone, would probably be the pick of the field. Three times a winner over hurdles last term, he was still in contention when falling three out behind Ahoy Senor and Bravemansgame in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle last April, and showed a good attitude to win for the first time over fences at Wetherby. Again, this longer trip should probably help him, although he will need to jump more fluently than he has done in two starts over fences (did warm to the task last time, having fallen on debut at Carlisle).
The fourth seven-year-old in the field is Hold That Taught, who boasts the most chasing experience, being a second-season novice. Off the mark on his reappearance at Carlisle in late-October, he was pulled-up in the Welsh Grand National when last sighted and this – obviously – represents a drop in grade. A thorough stayer who appreciates deep ground, he is a course winner over hurdles and would have sound claims, if this doesn’t come too soon, on the back of that run at Chepstow.
Bushypark won twice in heavy ground in December 2020, which formed part of a run that saw him five times in six starts. He continued the winning thread on his chase debut at Kelso last month, taking his rating to 137, having started that winning spree off the lowly rating of 83. Disappointing at Haydock over the Festive period, he is another who has conditions to suit, but does need to leave behind that latest effort.
Runner-up on his only chasing start to date, Colonial Dreams was beaten just a neck on his belated (he is now 10) fencing bow at Newbury in mid-December, where he jumped out to his right at times. At his best on nicer ground over hurdles, this is a fairly stiff ask for one with such limited experience.
And, the field is completed by the mare Queenohearts, who has no chasing experience at all. A smart stayer, she relishes deep ground and has gone well when fresh in the past, so should be ready for her first start for the Kim Bailey stable. That said, it is a big ask, against some fairly talented rivals on debut.