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Henry VIII Novices’ Chase

It's not just about the Tingle Creek tomorrow at Sandown, there's a Grade 1 Novice Chase amongst the rather decent supporting card. Lining up for the preview is astute NH enthusiast Sam Tribe, @samtribe87.

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Racing Post Henry VIII Novices’ Chase
Grade 1 Chase, 2 Miles
Sandown 13:50
Likely going Soft, Good to Soft in places


With doubts concerning the fitness of last year’s Queen Mother Chase winner Sire De Grugy and of the two mile chase king Sprinter Sacre (despite bullish remarks from Henderson) there is a chance for another to step into the limelight. Both have won the feature race of the day, The Tingle Creek Chase and that will more than likely throw a few into the hat. However, I have chosen to take a look at the Henry VIII chase, which was changed to a grade 1 in 2011 and has been won by some nice prospects in the past (Somersby and Al Ferof to name but a few). Let’s hope that a potential Champion Chase contender of the future will feature in this event.

When first studying this race I was hopeful for at least seven runners to feature but unfortunately at the 24 hour mark, we are down to just four. However, the contest is still an intriguing one with some high class novices showing great early season form.

1. Court Minstrel 3/1
Two from two this season thus far, Court Minstrel has seemingly taken to jumping fences well. However the ground tomorrow will be a concern for many. Although no rain is forecast, the cold will ensure the ground doesn’t dry up too much and with both wins coming on good ground this season, the cause for concern seems justified. To further prove that point, all his wins over hurdles had come on ground that was good to soft or better. I think it’s fair to say Evan Williams will be hoping for a good run before putting him away for the winter in preparation for the festival. There he will probably go for the Arkle, and is currently seen as a 25/1 chance for that contest. If he goes on to win the Henry VIII that price will undoubtedly be slashed.

2. Dunraven Storm 4/1
A noticeably late addition to the chasing scene as a 9 year old novice, Dunraven Storm is another who is two from two over fences. It’s worth noting that the two he has beaten in Vibrato Valtat (entered in this contest) and Far West, are two Nicholls’ horses that were considered favourites for both of those races. This further highlights the cracking form Hobbs’ yard is in. There is nothing to separate the two in terms of strike rate this season (both on 46%) and that will probably be reflected in this race too.

3. Irish Saint 13/8
Beat Chris Pea Green (second to Court Minstrel in October) by ten lengths in a Grade 2 chase over C&D in November and with that form deserves to be market leader here. He can seemingly act on any ground and is favoured by stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies. So where are the chinks in the armour? Well he has had only one spin over the bigger obstacles whereas the others are slightly more experienced but that is clutching at straws.

4. Vibrato Valtat 7/2
A classy horse in his own right and has only finished outside the places once (and that was fifth in a field of nineteen) so would be stupid to write off. Many are also suggesting that if Sam Twiston-Davies had shaken him up earlier on the run in at Cheltenham LTO he would’ve beaten Dunraven Storm. Level here in terms of weights on paper makes those two inseparable in my eyes.

Verdict
The market seems to have got it just about right at the moment. Irish Saint deserves to be at the top of the market and will take some beating. This is backed up by the fact that Nicholls has won this contest three times out of the last six and it would be foolish not to side with him in this contest. The three behind though our no slouches and will press Irish Saint all the way. Get ready for a hot contest (and take 13/8 now!)

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