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Prelude Handicap Chase preview

The days are getting shorter, the Flat season is winding down to its championship races - that must mean National Hunt season is almost upon us! There's a tasty card at Market Rasen today serving to whet the appetite for those cold months ahead.

Another debutant on the blog today emanating from the aspiring sports journalism ranks of the north-east, welcome aboard Conor Stroud, @conorstroud95.

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188Bet Prelude Handicap Chase
Listed, Class 1
£50,000
Market Rasen 1510 BST, 0010 AEST


With the Jumps season fast approaching, Market Rasen as always have put on an attractive prize for the Listed Prelude Handicap Chase, with the weather starting to get colder but the National Hunt season starting to heat up again.

One horse who just can’t seem to get his head in front is Presenting Arms, the likely mount of Noel Fehily. Despite going close in his four last attempts (including running out when in contention), he has been unable to quite close a race out, and may again be competing for minor honours.

Another horse likely to be high up in the betting is Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Ballykan, after winning a handsome prize at Southwell last time out beating the aforementioned Presenting Arms and Wadswick Court, who is also running. Following that one length defeat by Ballykan, the Peter Bowen trained runner went on to win down in grade at Cartmel, but the upgrade to this Listed race is likely to be a step too far.

Consistent performers Princeton Royale and Roman Flight may not be far away, but more appeal on paper, such as Fox Appeal who comes off the back of a good run at Newbury, even if the form hasn’t been franked.

Two horses at the bottom of the weights must also have a chance, in particular Vintage Vinnie, trained by Rebecca Curtis. He won last time out over hurdles, but I am willing to take him on, given he hasn’t won over fences for a year now, and was pulled up on the last two occasions he tried the larger obstacles. Anteros is at the foot of the weights, and while he may be consistent, it’s a marked step up in grade which I think leaves him very vulnerable.

At the other end of the weights is Croco Bay, the ride of champion jockey Richard Johnson. After placing in the Grand Annual in 2015, it was a disappointing season just gone, but did return to form in August with a win at Worcester. However, I think he may be just too high in the weights in this contest against some unexposed horses.

Having been handsomely beat in his previous four runs, it was a shock when Father Edward bolted up at Cartmel last time off a mark of 125. That mark is now upto 141, which I think is enough to say that the handicapper may have him in his grasp on this occasion.

But the one I like most is Tom George-trained Cernunnos, who returns to the venue where he fell in July when in with a chance in the Summer Plate. He then went to Southwell and had every chance before making a mistake at the last, costing him any chance on that day. Now on better terms with Ballykan who won at Southwell, I think with a better round of jumping could take the prize back to Gloucestershire.

1. Cernunnos
2. Ballykan
3. Fox Appeal


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