2019 Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle tips – Tizzard’s 5/2 chance can be Master of Ascot in Grade Two feature

Colin Tizzard Cheltenham Festival team. Five top stars from the Dorset handler for Cheltenham.Colin Tizzard Cheltenham Festival team. Five top stars from the Dorset handler for Cheltenham.

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the big race field for Friday's Grade Two feature race at Ascot, the Kennel Gate Novices' Hurdle.

The feature race of Ascot’s card on Friday is the Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle, otherwise known as the Kennel Gate Hurdle, and this classy Grade Two prize goes to post at 2.30pm with a winners’ purse of almost £20,000.

Run over two miles, this Grade Two contest has a decent pedigree of classy winners in recent years with Angels Breath and Claimantakinforgan giving trainer Nicky Henderson victory in each of the past two seasons; while the likes of Yanworth, L’ami Serge and Irving have also collected this prize in recent seasons.

Only four runners stand their ground for the Friday feature at the Berkshire venue, and Brian Healy looks at each of the quartet and assesses their chances.

Nicky Henderson has won the last two renewals of this contest, and the Seven Barrows handler chases a hat-trick of wins with his Time Flies By (13/2, Coral) who has shown a decent level of ability in a pair of Cheltenham bumper contests.

The Getaway gelding had Butte Montana behind when making a winning debut back in October, winning a shade readily, and he ran well in defeat subsequently back at Cheltenham when finding only Israel Champ too strong in Listed company latest.

He switches to hurdling now, and his master trainer will surely have him well schooled for this assignment, so a big run wouldn’t come as a shock with conditions unlikely to present an issue. The switch to hurdling however will need to coincide with a hefty jolt of improvement given he takes on a couple of potentially very smart rivals, although given his yard’s good recent record in this contest then he has to be respected.

Nicky Henderson

Nicky Henderson has won the Kennel Gate Hurdle for the past two seasons.

Nicky Richards’ Ribble Valley (4/5, Ladbrokes) sets the standard on two impressive hurdling wins at Hexham and Wetherby, and the Westerner gelding looks a very promising and potentially high-class prospect who could continue to improve.

He’s only been beaten once in his five starts, which came in a Listed bumper at Cheltenham last November; but he struck wins in that sphere either side of his defeat, scoring twice at Ayr, and switched to hurdling on his return from ten months off he showed heavy ground to be no issue with a nine lengths’ demolition of Itsnotyouitsme.

He was even more impressive latest, scoring over Sir Valentine by eleven lengths, only needing pushed out where he had a subsequent winner behind him. Sure to progress further, he is the highest rated in this field, and he could prove a tough nut to crack in receipt of 3lbs from Colin Tizzard’s MASTER DEBONAIR (5/2, Ladbrokes).

However, it could be worth chancing on Colin Tizzard’s charge to upset the applecart here, and the Yeats gelding looks a progressive and potentially smart sort in his own right.

A winner of two of his five starts in bumpers, beating Ribble Valley at Cheltenham last November to inflict that one’s sole defeat to date, he wasn’t disgraced in defeat in subsequent runs at Cheltenham and Aintree in Graded company.

He found only one too strong on his reappearance at Cheltenham following wind surgery and the thick end of seven months off the track, finishing just two lengths’ adrift of Heaven Help Us, and he showed the benefit of that outing to run out an impressive winner over Tamaroc Du Mathan over this course and distance latest where he struck by seven lengths.

That run came in soft ground, so conditions underfoot ought not to present too much of a problem although both bumper wins did come on a sounder surface; while the bare form of his two wins over hurdles perhaps leave him with a little bit to find with Nicky Richards’ norther raider to whom he has to give 3lbs despite behind rated 6lbs inferior.

He made all last time, keeping on well and showing a good attitude, and that could stand him in good stead here for all he needs to step up. But if he’s given a soft lead in front then he could prove hard to catch under Robbie Power.

Master Debonair (left) can win Friday’s Grade Two feature race at Ascot.

Completing the four-runner field, Mcfabulous (13/2, Coral) won three of his four starts in bumpers last term, and like Ribble Valley suffered his sole defeat behind Master Debonair at Cheltenham last November. Paul Nicholls’ charge bounced back from that reversal however to strike wins at Newbury and Aintree respectively, the latter in a Grade Two contest.

The Milan gelding shaped well on his hurdles debut at Chepstow last month, finding only one too good and beaten four lengths; but he didn’t convince with his jumping and he’ll need to brush up in that department if he’s to mount a serious threat here.

However, he should strip fitter for that return to action and he’s entitled to respect in what should prove an informative contest, especially if he jumps with a bit more fluency than was the case on his reapperance.


Standard-setting Ribble Valley has been impressive in both hurdles wins to date, but it could be worth chancing on Colin Tizzard’s MASTER DEBONAIR (5/2, Ladbrokes) to come out on top, and the Yeats gelding can improve on his own pair of hurdling efforts which includes a last-time course and distance win.

The Tizzard runner beat both Ribble Valley and Mcfabulous when scoring in a Listed Cheltenham bumper last November, and having possibly just needed his reappearance runner-up finish at Cheltenham behind Heaven Help Us, he stepped up on that outing to run out a ready seven lengths’ victor latest over course and distance.

He won readily despite not always being foot perfect, and while he has a bit more on his plate to give 3lbs to his rivals here, he looks capable of doing so and could be hard to catch if given a soft lead. He made the most of similar tactics for his latest win, and he could be worth chancing to confirm his Cheltenham bumper defeat of his rivals last November with a similar effort.