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  News Ubak out to defy long absence in Newbury highlight

Ubak out to defy long absence in Newbury highlight

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Newbury's Fuller's London Pride Novices' Chase has a distinguished roll of honour and it looks certain to be enhanced whoever wins the Grade Two event on Friday as eight fascinating contenders go to post.

Newbury's Fuller's London Pride Novices' Chase has a distinguished roll of honour and it looks certain to be enhanced whoever wins the Grade Two event on Friday as eight fascinating contenders go to post.

Subsequent Gold Cup hero Coneygree won 12 months ago, and Dynaste, Bobs Worth and Denman are all recent heroes.

One name who has not been seen on a racecard for nearly 1,000 days is the Gary Moore-trained Ubak, but when he was last sighted he was right at the top of the novice hurdle tree.

He won the Mersey Novices' Hurdle at Aintree and proved that was no fluke by pushing Un Atout very close at the Punchestown Festival in the Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle.

Returning after 945 days off, Moore feels he is as fit as possible for his chasing debut.

"He's as fit as we can get him at home," said the handler.

"Obviously it's a big ask first time back, especially at Newbury as it takes some jumping. But he's a big horse and we're very happy with him.

" We always viewed him as a chaser, he's a great big horse and he's still only seven despite all that time off.

"As long as he comes back safe and sound after so long off that's the main thing."

Paul Nicholls last won the race in 2013 with Wonderful Charm and this time runs Sametegal, who could not have been more impressive on his own return from a long break at Huntingdon.

Back in third that day was Dan Skelton's Three Musketeers, and Skelton blames himself for that defeat.

"He took me by surprise at Huntingdon as I had not missed a day with him and I thought he was ready to go," he explained.

"He jumped well but he simply blew up and the post-mortem was that he was not fit. I was a bit disappointed with myself more than anything.

"He has got to step up massively, of course, but I have not missed a day with him since his Huntingdon race."

Three Musketeers is 7lb better off with Sametegal on this occasion and Nicholls feels it could be hard for his horse to confirm the form.

"He won nicely the other day at Huntingdon off the back of a long layoff, but he has got to do it again," said the champion trainer.

"He might just improve again, but he has got it all to do carrying the penalty. It will be interesting taking on Dan's horse again."

Neil King's Zeroeshadesofgrey is another smart hurdler sent chasing this season but he was slightly disappointing at Wetherby on his introduction.

King is bringing him back in trip, though, and feels that will help sharpen up his jumping.

"We're coming back in trip with him and in that ground they won't go too quick," he said.

"I just think it will make him concentrate a bit more and he had the speed to win two bumpers anyway. He shows lots of speed at home so we'll see how he gets on.

"Even with everything he did last year we always felt he'd be a better chaser and nothing has happened to make us think otherwise. He will have learned an awful lot at Wetherby."

Also in a fascinating field is Harry Fry's Activial, placed in The Ladbroke, Betfair Hurdle and Coral Cup last season, David Pipe's Dell' Arca, Simon West's Maximiser, who did everything but win on his chasing debut at Carlisle when beaten by Silsol, and Alan King's L'Unique.