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Henrietta Knight Handicap Chase preview

The Paddy Power Open meeting is underway at Cheltenham and regular contributor Jon da Silva, @creamontop, runs the magnifying glass over one of Saturday's features...

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HENRIETTA KNIGHT HANDICAP CHASE

Nearly 3.5 miles of Cheltenham. Ground easy side.

I recall what I think was the first running of this and Royal Athlete bolting up under 12 stone. Maybe they should have called this race after his trainer Jenny Pitman. A woman who according to Charlie Brooks practically invented the the concept of Bullshit which despite its widespread and growing nature she does not get much credit for.

Top weight is Carruthers who having made us pattern matchers wince by nearly winning this last year and then handling a big field in the Hennessy has run 2 poor uns since then and topped them off with a refusal to race. Only a pound higher than Newbury win last year but beaten 14 in this last year. Likely to need it/find one too good/gone at the game.

TeaforThree [T43] the top plodding novice last year. I opposed his form in the Irish National and Scottish National and see no reason to stop now. To be fair handles most going and stays longer than a nasty rash.

Chicago Grey the year before that's top plodding novice. Beaten 51 lengths in this last year. However he could have been being got ready for the National and whilst he is a jumper who the best one can say is he gets from one side of an obstacle to another does have ability. Probably being got ready for another day in April although this would be a more realistic target.

Problema Tic managed to get to 144 without this obviously casual fan noticing. Young progressive. Put off by mark and that his French breeding does not scream stayer at me.

Harry the Viking 2nd top plodding novice 2012 see T43,

Galaxy Rock the defending champion not that this is a championship. Loves a bit of Chel' and goodish ground. Connections will be doing the opposite of a ran dance. Up 6 from last year's win. Arguable 17 runner field against him.

Ashkazar 2 from 3 in chases and likes the place. 141c v 151h suggest room for improvement. Has gone well off breaks.

Deal Done front runner majority of form suggests is more likely to be better over shorter.

Poker di Sivola the champion novice plodder of 2010. His mark was and is well below the next 2 winners - Chicago Grey and T43. Now this is not Timeform rigorous historical comparison but to me a hint those races could be considered over rated. This one got rated 136 and did bag the Whitbread/Betfred/WhoCares off that. Been off a year and would look at this one race after this. Not forlorn.

Any Currency up 8 for a recent Wincanton win after a couple of years of sterling but not winning form. Should find 1 or 2 too good.

Mon Mome likes it here. I have no idea as with most of Ms Williams horses but have him as a stayer who likes better ground but with some juice given he's not super quick. Recalling the Gold Cup where he appeared to inhale horses to be 30 lengths 3rd. PP0P does not encourage and despite my usual two quid because I'd hate to see him win without and I think he has another race somewhere passed over.

Bradley arguably unexposed hunter chaser albeit Ashkazar has a verdict on him for which he [Bradley] is 4lb better off. Probably close to ideal conditions.

Mostly Bob who has been mostly 2nd of late. Beat Mon Mome over the course last season but not sure what that is worth.

Viking Blond some hope in his early chase career and started over hurdles this season. One to consider as Twister like springing surprises at this meeting (or any meeting obviously)

King Fontaine seems too slow to me.

Fredo's not my brother and I don't love him but might be interesting if it got soft. Only 2 runs this far including a 2nd to Hey Big Spender at Warwick and a Scots Nat' Pulled up.

Monbeg Dude no evidence he's good enough. 1 win off 107.

Conclusion
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Race shapes as a test of my anti 4 mile National Hunt Novice Chase Theory. I'll be considering Ashkazar, Viking Blond and Bradley and maybe if we get rain Fredo will get a stay of execution before Al Neri gives him a bullet in the head. Preference for Ashkazar especially at 6/1 or more.

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