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2019 Dipper Novices' Chase tips - Runner-by-runner guide to Cheltenham's New Year feature race

Brian Healy 31 Dec 2018
Lostintranslation can give trainer Colin Tizzard another big prize by winning the Dipper Novices' Chase at Cheltenham.

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the big race field for Cheltenham's New Year feature race, the Grade Two Dipper Novices' Chase.

The New Years’ Day feature race at Cheltenham comes in the shape of the Grade Two Dipper Novices’ Chase, and the 2m 4f contest goes to post at 1.25pm as the third race of the afternoon at Prestbury Park.

Boasting a first prize of almost £20,00, this race could prove a pointer towards Cheltenham in March and either the JLT Novices’ Chase or the RSA Chase, and the recent roll-call of winners features the likes of Yanworth, Whisper, Seeyouatmidnight, Ptit Zig at Oscar Whisky in recent seasons.

The competitive chase contest will spearhead ITV Racing’s coverage of the New Years’ Day fixture, and Brian Healy assesses the potential field for the Cheltenham highlight on Tuesday.

Black Op (3/1, Bet365) came to chasing with a big reputation, having proven himself a smart performer over hurdles the previous season which included finishing runner-up to both Santini and Samcro in races here in January and March, and then beating Lostintranslation at Aintree to win a Grade One on his final outing of the campaign.

Tom George’s charge could only finish third on his chase debut behind Yanworth and Topofthegame at Exeter, already beginning to come under pressure when making a mistake two out. That error took some of the wind from his sails, and he wasn’t able to quite match the finishing efforts of the front pair.

He should strip fitter for the outing, and it would be no surprise to see him take a forward step; he is bred for this game, and the imposing Sandmason gelding should give a good account although better ground is possibly not ideal.

Black Op could bid to get off the mark over fences in the Dipper Novices' Chase.

On The Blind Side (4/1, Boylesport) however could make his reappearance for the Seven Barrows trainer, and the Stowaway gelding could prove a big danger if lining up.

A winner between the flags prior to joining this yard, he won three times over hurdles which inlcudes back-to-back Grade Two successes at Cheltenham and Sandown, latterly beating Springtown Lake by nine lengths.

Possibly just needing the run on his return from four months off at Aintree in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle behind Black Op, the six-year old will be an interesting runner if pitched straight into a race of this depth on his reappearance and following a wind operation.

He has the size and scope to make into a chaser however, and his master trainer will surely have him primed for a big run. Despite giving up both experience and race-fitness, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him going close if fully wound up.

On The Blind Side could make his seasonal return and chase debut in the New Year feature at Cheltenham.

Colin Tizzard has landed several big prizes already this term, and LOSTINTRANSLATION (4/1, Coral) can scoop another prize pot for the Dorset handler.

The Flemensfirth gelding was useful over timber last term, although he was beaten behind Dynamite Dollars on his hurdles debut prior to finding Claimantakinforgan too strong at Newbury on his next outing.

The six-year old made it third time lucky when successful back at Newbury, and his subsequent disappointments at Haydock and Cheltenham in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle can be attributed to the heavy ground.

Having got to within a length of Black Op at Aintree, the Tizzard runner has shaped well over fences in both starts behind La Bague Au Roi, beaten just over one length behind that rival at Newbury on his chase debut and then mounting a strong challenge to the same rival back there in November in the Berkshire Novices’ Chase before a desperate blunder put paid to his chance.

He all but fell when clouting the third last and breaking the fence; while his winning chance was wiped out, he did well to keep on for third. What might have transpired had he jumped cleaner is debatable, but the form looks strong and there could be more to come from him as a chaser if he can avoid errors.

Defi Du Seuil (3/1, Coral) was bitterly disappointing over hurdles last term, having looked imperious the season before when racking up seven straight wins which included successes in the Triumph Hurdle and 4-Y-O Hurdle at Aintree.

Philip Hobbs had a torrid season last term, and the Voix Du Nord gelding failed to fire in his two outings of the campaign, beating only one rival home in starts at Ascot and Leopardstown; he looked again reluctant on his chase debut behind the impressive Lalor when making his return here in November where he finished last of five.

However, there was much to like about his subsequent defeat of Topofthegame at Exeter, scoring by almost four lengths readily. He jumped and travelled well throughout, and there is surely better to come from him with the potential for better to come.

He did have the advantage of race-fitness over both Topofthegame and Black Op, who both finished in the places, and he would be giving both 3lbs now; while he can improve, he’s no certainty to back up that success.

Defi Du Seuil could bid to add to his chase win tally in the Dipper Novices' Chase.

Crucial Role (8/1, Bet365) got off the mark at the second attempt over fences since joining Dan Skelton, beatingt Now McGinty by nine lengths at Uttoxeter.

The Westerner gelding was a useful hurdler for Henry Daly previously, and he shaped well enough behind Activial at Haydock on his chase debut and first start for Skelton despite finishing a distant third behind that horse.

The form of that run has been boosted, and he ran out a ready winner latest. This is a big step up in class however, and he’ll need to find a jolt of improvement if he’s to follow up.


LOSTINTRANSLATION (4/1, Coral) looked set to make La Bague Au Roi pull out all the stops at Newbury latest before Colin Tizzard’s charge all but took the third last by the roots, ending any winning chance.

Colin Tizzard’s charge has a bit to find with a couple of these on his hurdles form, but he has long since threatened to make into a better chaser and the Flemensfirth gelding could shrug off that mistake to get off the mark over fences here.

The form of his latest third has been boosted by the winner since landing a Grade One, and if he can keep the mistakes to a minimum then he could well go close. He was just under one length behind La Bague Au Roi on his chase debut at Newbury at the beginning of November, finishing ahead of one of his potential rivals and still with the potential to find further improvement he could be worth chancing to get off the mark assuming his jumping holds up.

He has the size and scope to make into a chaser, and there could be better to come from him so he is worth giving another chance to in this Grade Two contest.


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2019 Dipper Novices' Chase tips - Runner-by-runner guide to Cheltenham's New Year feature race

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the big race field for Cheltenham's New Year feature race, the Grade Two Dipper Novices' Chase.

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