The novice chase at Chepstow on Saturday has been won by Cue Card and Thistlecrack in previous runnings, and Colin Tizzard unleashed another potential star in FINIAN’S OSCAR (148+) in this year’s renewal.

There were three chases run on the card, with the other two over the near three mile trip.  The sectionals as timed from the first jump in the novice chase were:

Finian’s Oscar Rock The Kasbah Definitly Grey
11.71 12.45 12.32
25.52 26.95 26.71
35.77 37.67 36.89
46.59 49.18 48.52
115.17 122.72 121.38
125.2 133.15 132.17
132.97 140.97 140.02
144.95 153.22 152.02
158.14 166.7 165.66
169.05 177.53 176.81
221.32 228.71 230.13
233.93 239.79 242.25
249.26 252.81 256
261.04 262.59 265.82
274.3 273.68 277.06
292.28 290.06 295.04

Settled at the back of the four runner field by his new pilot, Bryan Cooper, Finian’s Oscar struck me as a professional enough jumper for his first run over fences, and he was given a nice education by Cooper.  At one stage he was ten lengths or so off the leading pair but once encouraged he picked up the leader AINTREE MY DREAM (133) fairly readily and travelled all over him up the straight to win eased down.

The fact he was eased down presents a bit of a conundrum in trying to accurately rate him.  Even with that he clocked a time just 2.22s slower than Rock The Kasbah, and a quicker time than Definitly Grey.  But he was so far in ascendancy at one point (8 or 9s ahead of both), and still seemed to have so much left in the tank at the end that I’ve upgraded him a fair bit to arrive at a mark of 148.

It was no secret that he was a potential top notch novice chaser, but he impressed me here on his debut.  The end of season choice would seem to be between the Arkle and the JLT… Coming from the family of Champion Chase winner Finian’s Rainbow and the way he picked up decent horses here suggests there is plenty of pace in his make-up so I can see connections going for the shorter race.  With his point to point background though his long term future is probably the 2019 Gold Cup and I wonder if he could follow Kicking King, War Of Attrition and Sizing John in finishing runner-up in the Arkle and then going onto Gold Cup glory?



The other performance of note on the chase front was from ROCK THE KASBAH (152) who won the handicap chase off a mark of 142 in a nice style.  He clocked a time 5s quicker than the winner of the other race over the same distance, but it was the impressive finish that caught my eye.  Up to seven out they clocked roughly the same time of around 177s, but from there Rock The Kasbah came home 6s quicker.  Adjusting for this points to a nice performance from the winner that goes some way towards fulfilling his potential.  He was carrying 15lbs less than the winner of the other race but this still merited a number 10lbs higher than the mark he won off.

I notice he has been raised to a mark of 149 as a result of this win.  He can still pose a threat off that mark should connections elect to go for the Ladbroke Gold Cup at Newbury.  Though considering he has good form here at Chepstow and on soft ground, the Welsh National has to be tempting for connections.  He’ll need to find some more improvement…but that is certainly possible for the seven year old.



COURT MINSTREL (147) won the Silver Trophy for the second time at the age of 10.  He had dropped to a nice mark, and with the ground in his favour and his excellent jockey claiming 7lbs he was able to get his head in front ahead of SAM SPINNER (140).  However, it is the preceding race also won by Mitch Bastyan that I think is seriously worth following.

Silver Streak Court Minstrel Difference
72.1 71.83 0.27
88.73 88.82 -0.09
102.45 102.63 -0.18
174.39 175.78 -1.39
185.78 186.92 -1.14
196.17 197.09 -0.92
215.41 215.93 -0.52
227.33 228.39 -1.06

SILVER STREAK (142) won the race in fine style, travelling well before pulling 4.5 lengths away from DOLOS (150).  As you can see from the sectionals above, he clocked a time just over a second quicker from the first flight.  Adjusting for the lower weight carried and distance run and looking at the other races on the card I reach a number of 142 for the winner.  He was winning here off a mark of just 122, and has only been put up to 130.  I was interested to see his trainer talk about the Greatwood Hurdle as a potential target, and he would certainly be of interest there should he get in.  He looks on an upward curve, and ahead of his new mark.

DOLOS (150) seemed to get outpaced at the end by the winner and despite the fact he has yet to be successful beyond two miles he looks worth trying up in trip.  On pedigree he could well improve for it and he looks well ahead of his mark of 135.

FLASHING GLANCE (140) won a Stratford novice by 20 lengths in September, and has some smart bumper form in behind Irish Prophecy, Cap Soleil and Pym.  He is another worth following.

FIDUX (141), DINO VELVET (133) and PERCY STREET (130) all look capable of winning from their marks.  The two Alan King horses perhaps needed the run, and Percy Street looks well handicapped on the best of his flat form.  Having been gelded recently, Henderson is just the trainer to unlock the potential that looked to be there when he travelled well in the Fred Winter.



Paul Nicholls wasn’t the only one devastated when ROMAIN DE SENAM (148) didn’t get into the novice handicap chase at the festival, as I’d made him one of the best bets of the week for that race.  Alas, there was some recompense as he slammed his rivals on Sunday at Chepstow from a mark of 133.

Mia’s Storm Bob Ford Romain De Senam
12.66 12.2 11.44
26.93 26.92 25.43
37.47 37.7 35.82
48.89 49.32 47.07
122.16 119.94 117.63
132.29 130.44 127.85
140.36 138.52 135.77
152.37 150.68 147.8
166.03 165.02 161.58
177.23 176.43 172.65
226.75 227.93 223.15
237.62 239.48 234.03
250.4 253 247.43
260.17 263.37 257.68
270.66 274.43 268.58
285.17 290.49 284.85


The other two chases on the card were over 4f further than this race, and Romain De Senam unsurprisingly was able to clock a faster time than both the other winners even after being well eased in the closing stages.

I was somewhat surprised to hear that the BetVictor Gold Cup wasn’t being considered for the winner.  It looks the obvious race, and assuming he goes up to a mark of around 142 after this and with further improvement he must have a big chance for the race.  Nicholls mentioned that he may not have sufficient experience, but this was his 8th run over fences….he just has to go for the race (unless the owner has another candidate, which I’ll come to later!)

DOUBLE SHUFFLE (157) was well beaten by the pacier winner, but this was a fine comeback run for him.  Back up in trip to another go at three miles and I think he can land a nice prize this year even from his mark of 151.



With hurricanes hitting the British Isles it seemed MIA’S STORM (145) was an appropriately named winner of the novice chase on the card.  As we saw from the sectional’s the time she clocked was only just behind Romain De Senam despite the longer trip and carrying 6lbs more.  She was a progressive hurdler last year but looks to have kicked on again now moving to the bigger obstacles.  Unbeaten on good ground, she could be one to bear in mind for better ground in the spring should she get turned over on a softer surface over the winter months.

ELEGANT ESCAPE (149) has been a well touted horse having been beaten in his point to point days by the hype machine Samcro.  Now moved to the bigger obstacles he made an excellent debut here and looks a nice prospect for novice chasing, perhaps an RSA type, with stablemate Finian’s Oscar likelier to thrive at shorter trips.



Seeing a Terry Warner owned, Phillip Hobbs trained grey stirs the emotions as one reminisces about the mighty Detroit City.  And it looks like connections have another fine prospect in GUMBALL (136).

Gumball Poetic Rhythm Misterton
75.79 70.22 70.17
92.46 86.49 86.39
106.06 99.89 99.26
179.47 172.06 172.57
191.33 184 184.49
201.64 195.44 194.91
220.48 215.57 214.55
233.06 228.45 227.45

They clocked the slowest time in this race, as you can see above, but most of this can be accounted for at the start of the race, and perhaps explains the winners scratchy and clumsy jumping.  In a stronger run race he should jump better, as he had done on debut, and he looks a fine Triumph Hurdle prospect at this stage.

The runner-up MALAYA (126) had a fair reputation from France but was no match for the winner here.  She should step up from this and looks a nice prospect herself.

SPEEDO BOY (104) is an interesting horse from the flat where he has been rated as high as 100.  He bumped into two smart horses here and if connections place him right he could end up on a nice mark for the Fred Winter.



POETIC RHYTHM (142) won the novice hurdle in fine style, but it was the third placed horse VISION DES FLOS (136) that is the one to take out of the race.  The winner and runner-up were having their fifth and ninth starts over hurdles, yet Vision Des Flos travelled well in the race and just looked in need of the run here.  He should step up nicely from this and be on the scene in the big end of season novice hurdles.  This race was 3.5f further than the other two races on the card, yet they clocked a time just a second slower than the race won by Misterton.



MISTERTON (144) won the final hurdle race on the card in a good time but it was the horse in third, OLDGRANGEWOOD (144) that caught the eye.  He travelled well, but looked to get a bit outpaced at the end of the race and perhaps also in need of the run (was a drifter on the day)  He was just 5 lengths behind Cloudy Dream at Ayr over 2.5miles at the end of last season and looks dangerously handicapped on a mark of 147.  The benefit of this run, and going back up to 2.5miles should see improvement as should moving back over the larger obstacles.

With Nicholls so quick to dismiss the BetVictor Gold Cup in the aftermath of the race for Romain De Senam, I wonder if the owner has the race in mind for Oldgrangewood already!

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