BROWN ADVISORY NOVICES' CHASE
Grade 1, £175,000, 3m80y
Cheltenham Wednesday, 1410 local, 1510 CET, 0110 AEDST
Going - Good, Good to Soft in places.
1. Ahoy Senor - beat Bravemansgame in the G1 Sefton Novices Hurdle at Aintree last season. Since switching to fences, he has unseated, won a G2 by 31L, finished second to Bravemansgame at Kempton after numerous mistakes, and then won the G2 Towton at Wetherby. He goes fast but you'll have your heart in your mouth as he jumps. Take on trust.
2. Beacon Edge - won the G1 Drinmore Novice Chase back in October ahead of Gabynako (second yesterday) and Fury Road, but then fell at the Dublin Racing Festival and ran a narrow second behind Farouk D'Alene (conceding 7lbs) a fortnight later when then obviously needed to run him to get him fitter. One of the many very good Gigginstown horses that are honest but I can't ever see winning a big race.
3. Bravemansgame - four from four over fences, recording some big performance figures along the way. Beat Ahoy Senor in the Kauto Star at Kempton on Boxing Day but I think the margin was flattering as explained above. He won well in a Newbury handicap giving his three opponents at least 16lb last month, which might exaggerate the figures. Either way, he's a big chance.
4. Capodanno - McManus raider in the Mullins stable who won a big Punchestown Festival handicap over hurdles before switching to fences, where he's won a Beginners at Naas (coming back from a bad blunder at the second last) and then beat all bar Bob Olinger in a G3 at Punchestown when his manners were better. But he then made a mistake early and unseated a few fences later during the Dublin Racing Festival. Capable but can't trust his jumping at this price.
5. Dusart - very lightly raced, just four starts as a 7yo, but hard to knock him. Beat Soaring Glory (future Betfair Hurdle winner) on debut, third to Belfast Banter at Aintree in a G1 Novice Hurdle at his second start, and has won a couple of small field novice chases without raising a sweat. Who knows what's under the bonnet when he sees a pressure race for the first time.
6. Farouk D'Alene - missed the Festival last year having beaten Vanillier in a G2, and has taken well to fences, winning twice and two narrow defeats in four runs, all in decent company. Well supported overnight but will need to have improved his jumping. He's been a bit sloppy over fences and you can't get away with that here.
7. Fury Road - just one win from four over fences, beating Run Wild Fred and Vanillier in a G1 Novice at Leopardstown over Xmas, but needs to improve again to beat these.
8. Gaillard Du Mesnil - second to Bob Olinger at the last festival, won the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown, but hasn't lived up to that potential over fences in three chase starts. Not today.
9. L'Homme Presse - winner of all four chase starts, the last by 21L in the G1 Scilly Isles at Sandown. Hasn't faced the big names but has brained the fields he has met, including some of the Ultima field in the G2 Dippers on New Year's Day. Brilliant jumper, expect more when he finally sees some pressure.
10. Streets of Doyen - I was keen on him in the Albert Bartlett last year when he ran third. Since then he hasn't progressed. He won his chase debut back in July but hasn't improved on that rating in three further runs, including a refusal here in November. Not until he shows a sign of returning to form.
11. Threeunderthrufive - has won eight out of ten over obstacles, running sixth in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle last year and then making a few novicey mistakes on chase debut at Chepstow in October to run second. He has come steadily through the grade, beating Does He Know and Oscar Elite here in November (leading chances in the Ultima yesterday), Fantastikas in a G2 at Doncaster (started 8/1 in the Ultima), and then comfortably took a G2 Novice Chase at Warwick. Those fields have all been small but he has beaten them comfortably. Will we see more in a bigger, stronger field? We just might.
Good race this with some sort of case on offer for all bar one of them. This should be another race for the British contingent but which one? I'm going to have a stab at two at odds - Dusart and Threeunderthrufive. They arrive with different formlines to the main contenders and might just be able to spring a surprise. Henderson and de Boinville went two from two yesterday including one at a price. Paul Nicholls has a big chance here but it might not be the headline hope who lands it. L'Homme Presse for third.
DUSART (EW at 25/1), Threeunderthrufive (EW at 16/1), L'Homme Presse