Finian’s Oscar - 15.05 Chepstow
Perhaps the standout novice hurdler last season, the five-year-old missed Cheltenham due to a minor injury before confirming his talent with a bloodless win in a Grade 1 hurdle at the Grand National meeting, his second top grade success of the season. He came up just short three weeks later over at Punchestown but lost nothing in defeat and there is huge excitement around how he takes to fences this season.
Prominent in the betting for all of the novice chases at Cheltenham in march, the 10/1 on offer for the JLT is the shortest of the three. Said to have taken well to fences, Saturday should give us a glimpse of what is to come for the rest of the season
Alary - 16.10 Chepstow
Another to arrive in the Tizzard yard with a big reputation, his trainer did little to dampen the lofty expectations when revealing he was working alongside then Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack. He was sent off 4/1 favourite for the uber competitive Peter Marsh Handicap Chase at Haydock on his British debut but was a complete no-show before being pulled up. He followed that effort with a fall at Exeter before finishing a distant sixth in the Ryanair at the Festival. Tizzard was pretty bullish when asked how he had summered saying “he was pretty rapid schooling over fences the other week. He seems and looks different now”. If that is the case, and he can start to deliver on the early potential he showed over in France or on the gallops for Tizzard, then we can certainly expect to see the real Alary this season.
Sizing Codelco - 16.45 Chepstow
I promise this isn’t just a Colin Tizzard stable tour! The fact the Dorset trainer features on three separate occasions is testament to the strength and depth he now possesses in the yard with Sizing Codelco one of a string of horses with top-level ambitions this season. The eight-year-old landed two big handicaps on his last two starts with Tizzard crediting jockey Robbie Power for finding the key - "He finally found his lease of life under Robbie Power. He organised him like no other jockey has. He was absolutely brilliant on him and made him the horse he is.” – the fact Bryan Cooper will take over on Saturday therefore raises question marks but with a rating of 160 to his name, the Gold Cup in March will likely be his season aim.
Gumball - 13.40 Chepstow
Philip Hobbs’ three-year-old made the perfect start for his new connections at Stratford earlier this month with a 31 length victory when sent off the 4/9 favourite. That effort saw him priced up at 33/1 for the Triumph Hurdle in March and with it a number of ante-post bets through the site. Perhaps too early to judge his Festival credentials, there’s no escaping he is obviously a talented individual who should be capable of racking up a sequence of victories early in the season.
Different Gravey - 16.35 Chepstow
The former Nicky Henderson inmate looked a horse of tremendous potential when destroying the field in a competitive handicap hurdle at Ascot back in 2016 and he looked to have a promising career over the larger obstacles ahead of him when winning his chase debut by six lengths nine months later. Even earning quotes of 16/1 for the RSA in the process.
However, the seven-year-old is yet to really deliver on that potential with three large margin defeats in his last three outings to his name, leaving his new trainer on somewhat of a retrieval mission. Expected to come on from Sunday’s run, if the change in scenery can help discover some of that old spark then there could be a decent handicap in the seven-year-old before the season is up.