The Inside Track on the Novices’ Handicap Chase
A race still in its infancy, having first been run in 2005, the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase is often fiercely oversubscribed and half the battle seems to be making the cut. Connections have to balance getting their horses rated as close to the 140 maximum rating, whilst not showing all their true ability to the handicapper.
One horse who has been obviously laid out for the race is The Romford Pele, however, so coy have connections been about getting him handicapped, that he seems too well handicapped to get in off his mark of 129.
Since the race has been run as a 0-140 (2011), the bottom weight has run off an official mark of 132. If The Romford Pele does make the cut, then he looks the one to beat.
Nicky Henderson has a fantastic record in the race and Rajdhani Express gave him his first winner last year following three runner-up berths. This year his main representative looks to be ERICHT.
The horse seems to have been campaigned perfectly for the race, having not been able, for one reason or another, to show his true ability on his first two starts. Last time back on better ground he won impressively at Musselburgh, guaranteeing himself a place in the line-up.
He has form at the festival and with one of the best pilots up top, a bold show is expected.
Present View is a horse who has been impressing many this winter. He has a touch of Hunt Ball (2012 winner) about him and not just because he warmed up with a win at Kempton in the same race Hunt Ball did two years earlier.
He has already been raised 19lbs this season, but the way he oozes class throughout his races suggests there’s plenty more to come. A strong traveller, the step up in grade shouldn’t be a problem and faster ground than he has encountered so far is also a bonus.
David Pipe always has to be respected in Festival handicaps and he relies on Close House as his sole entry this year. He’s been disappointing over fences so far, but if his jumping holds up then he’s clearly well handicapped off 135.
Alternative: Close House