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2018 Challow Hurdle tips – 11/2 chance to hand Lacey first Grade One success

Tom Scudamore riding Kateson (centre) clear the last to win The Ladbrokes Novices Hurdle at Newbury.

Our expert takes a look through the betting for this Grade One at Chepstow and provides readers with his tips on Saturday 29th December.


Leopardstown may be the centre of attention on Saturday, but British viewers have a Grade One of their own to take in, as Chepstow stages the 43rd renewal of the Challow Hurdle. This two-and-a-half-mile novice hurdle has provided many horses with the perfect springboard from which to launch exceptional careers, with names like Bindaree, Witchita Lineman and Denman standing out on the roll of honour.

Heading the betting for Saturday’s renewal is Champ (11/8 William Hill), who’s managed to score in his last three starts over hurdles by a combined winning distance of 25 lengths. Last time out, Nicky Henderson’s novice was very impressive, pushing his way to the front and holding on comfortably to claim a big handicap prize here at Newbury.

It’s easy to see why this imposing, course-and-distance winner sits atop the betting. I am, however, prepared to take Champ on. Despite running four times over hurdles, the JP McManus silk-wearer was still very green when winning the last day. The form of any of his victories hasn’t worked out particularly well and favourites don’t boast a strong record in the Challow, winning just eight times since the turn of the Millennium.

The air at Newbury 12 months ago rang with the joyous cries of Fergal O’Brien, as Poetic Rhythm handed him his first Grade One as a trainer. Fergal returns to Newbury with another strong challenger in Coolanly (5/1 Coral), who was my selection before bolting up to beat Pym in the Hyde Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. Paddy Brennan gave Coolanly an excellent ride that day and he has won on a similar track to this, but softer ground is still a bit of a worry.

Brewin’Upastorm (6/1 Ladbrokes) features on my list of horses to track this season, so I was delighted to see Olly Murphy’s youngster get off the mark over hurdles at the first time of asking. It’s still hard to tell if he beat anything of note during that novice hurdle at Huntingdon and there are more experienced rivals who hold much more appeal in this Grade One.

Aidan Coleman riding Champ to victory here at Newbury.


Alan King and Wayne Hutchinson teamed up to win the Challow with Messire Des Obeaux two years ago and they will be hoping Alsa Mix (7/1 William Hill) can help bring the trophy back to Barbury Castle. Like Messire Des Obeaux, King’s mare reappears on the back of a victory in the Winter Novices’ Hurdle. Yet, it looked a particularly weak renewal of that Grade Two and Alsa Mix has a little to find in terms of ratings.

It was hard not to be impressed with Getaway Trump’s (13/2 Coral) most recent victory at Exeter, where Paul Nicholls’ charge powered away from some talented rivals when shouldering a six-pound penalty. While that win came over two miles, Nicholls’ five-year-old has won over this extended trip already this season and looks to be a novice with plenty more to give.

While Getaway Trump has the potential to spring a surprise in that Challow, the one I’m going to back is KATESON (11/2 Ladbrokes), who has done very little wrong this year and looks a horse on a definite upward curve.

Kateson travelled to Chepstow on his penultimate start on the flat, losing out to a talented horse in Remastered on extremely testing ground. Tom Lacey’s charge carried that good run into the big Grade Two bumper at Aintree and Kateson ran another fine race to place second behind impressive victor, Portrush Ted.

The switch to hurdling brought with it a maiden victory in November, with Kateson seeing some decent rivals around this very venue. Lacey’s five-year-old then made it two-from-two over jumps here at Newbury at the end of last month, pulling away from some game challengers after the last to successfully give weight to the field.

The form of that maiden was significantly boosted as runner-up, Mr Pumblechook hacked up to win by ten lengths on his following appearance. Kateson is a course-and-distance winner on similar ground to this and has shaped like a horse with plenty of class during both of his victories this term. Tom Lacey is an inform trainer on the up and I think Kateson will be good enough to hand him his first Grade One success.

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2018 Challow Hurdle tips – 11/2 chance to hand Lacey first Grade One success

Our expert takes a look through the betting for this Grade One at Chepstow and provides readers with his tips on Saturday 29th December.

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