Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase tips: Back Barters Hill on fences debut
Barters Hill odds attractive ahead of much-anticipated return
The Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase (14:05) rates as the highlight of Friday’s schedule at Cheltenham, with a talent-laden field lining-up in the third of a six races on The Open meeting’s first day card.
A class 2 contest open to four-year-olds and above comes over a two-and-a-half-mile trip. Of the seven runners predicted, Barters Hill odds have him at the head of the market to make a winning debut over the bigger obstacles.
Ben Pauling’s six-year-old looks every inch a worthy favourite, having already proven himself over this distance, coming home ahead of the chasing pack in the Grade 1 Challow Novices Hurdle at Newbury on soft ground.
With a CV reading seven wins from eight career starts, Barters Hill is bound to be popular among punters in the pre-race Cheltenham betting.
Jockey Bass fishing for compliments at Cheltenham
Barters Hill was seen suffering his first defeat in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival back in March, ending in a disappointing fourth when widely expected to do better.
Unowhatimeanharry was the people’s champion on that occasion, but the return has been noted in the diary of racing enthusiasts for a while now and the big, strong gelding will attract attention in the parade ring alone.
The selection looks well in at the weights, with only a couple at most potentially better-treated and, with David Bass back in the driving seat, Barters Hill is sure to take all the beating.
Team Skelton stepping up to the Steel Plate with Its’afreebee
The main danger, according to the early betting, is expected to come in the form of Its’afreebee for Coral ambassador Dan Skelton.
Ridden by Dan’s brother Harry, this six-year-old gelding has made a habit of winning of late and was seen making a winning effort on his seasonal reappearance when taking the Helhoughton Novices’ Chase at Fakenham last time out.
Sent off odds-on, Its’afreebee poured pressure all over his rivals, making all and, despite losing concentration in the closing stages, the race had already been put to bed by then.
Closest finisher Rolling Maul crossed the line 1 1/4 lengths behind, which does team Skelton a disservice. Its’afreebee looked more value than the winning margin suggests.
That was jotted down in notebooks as an easy victor, but he will need to show further progression to handle himself in this kind of company, which represents a leap up in class.