Friday’s race of the day – Preview and tips for big Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham’s Showcase Meeting

We take a look through the runners in the three miles novices’ chase on the first day of Cheltenham’s Showcase Meeting and provide readers with our tips.

The showdown between Al Dancer and Getaway Trump in the two mile novices’ chase may be the highlight of the afternoon for many at Cheltenham, but the three miler for first season chasers later in the card is a race well worth watching too.

Fans’ favourites Black Corton, Lil Rockerfeller and The Romford Pele have won this race in recent seasons. The great Tiger Roll was the beaten favourite in this contest three years ago and we all know what he’s gone on to achieve since, so this is certainly a very high calibre contest.

Our expert has taken a look through all of the runners in Friday’s race of the day and highlighted which runner he will be backing at Cheltenham.

Friday’s Race Of The Day at Cheltenham

Aye Aye Charlie

Won just one of eleven starts over hurdles, and that came when carrying odds of 1/14 at Kelso as a second-season novice. Plenty of big race experience. Beaten 25 lengths in both the Ballymore and the Albert Bartlett. Ran seven times here at Cheltenham so clearly enjoys the course. Other classier jumpers preferred though.

Boyhood

Powered to victory on heavy ground over three miles at Cheltenham last January. Returned after long absence to finish second behind the impressive First Assignment in a Listed Hurdle at the November Meeting. Was pushed right up to 26 furlongs on chasing debut at Newton Abbot in May and got the better of Truckers Lodge by a neck. Confirmed stayer, who’s won over fences already and has form around Cheltenham. Solid claims.

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Dinons winning during last year’s Showcase Meeting.

 

Dinons

Came to this meeting last year on the back of a couple of wins during the summer and trounced a modest field in the three-mile novice’s hurdle. Has been busy again during early stages of the season, winning three times in five starts over the larger obstacles. Has winning form here at Cheltenham, goes on any ground and plenty of chasing experience under his belt. Certainly a leading candidate.

Minella Warrior

Skipped the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham, despite being qualified. Instead travelled to Wetherby, where he carried top-weight to victory in a staying handicap over hurdles. Looked a strong staying chaser in the making last season and will certainly come on from the run. May have his work cut-out in this company on his reappearance.

Mulcahys Hill

Ran four times during first campaign over fences, best result coming when second to 50/1 shot Jerrysback over two-and-a-half miles at Bangor. Beaten 27 lengths in the Grade One Scilly Isles at Sandown before falling two from home when well-beaten in the National Hunt Chase. Will remain in novice company throughout the upcoming season. Warren Greatrex should find a suitable winning opportunity, but this doesn’t look it.

Present Ranger

Won three times over hurdles during the spring and summer, beating future three-time winner, The Butcher Said by five lengths at Market Rasen. In at the deep-end on first start over fences. Never run here at Cheltenham before, likes better ground than this and yet to tackle trip further than two-and-a-half miles. Little going for him.

Rockpoint

Got the better of Lisnagar Oscar in the Grade Two Bristol Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham’s November Meeting last year. Well beaten on four subsequent starts, including 50 length defeat in the Albert Bartlett. Looked to have the size and scope to make a decent staying chaser, but has plenty to prove on return to Cheltenham.

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Wholestone winning the 2018 Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham,

 

Wholestone

Somewhat of a course specialist here over hurdles, having won four times in eleven starts at Cheltenham. Won two Grade Twos in that time and placed fourth and fifth in the previous two editions of the Stayers’ Hurdle. Faced just one on chasing debut and was left to complete alone when rival fell four out. Won’t mind a little extra cut in the ground and stable in flying form.

Verdict

The top three in the betting here will all carry a penalty, as they’ve all won over fences already. While some would see that as a negative, the previous five winners of this race had all won over the larger obstacles before travelling to Cheltenham and their winning experience over fences should make up for the extra weight they carry.

Wholestone was barely tested when making a winning start to life over fences and, although he clearly enjoys running here at Cheltenham, both of his victories over the last two seasons have come over two-and-a-half miles. I’m not totally convinced three miles is his optimum trip. Even with his trainer in red-hot form, I’m prepared to take the market leader on.

Dinons looks the obvious choice and Gordon Elliott’s raider could prove hard to beat. However, I think there’s plenty of value in backing BOYHOOD, who saw out a trip two furlongs further than this when winning on his chasing debut back in May. Boyhood’s career has played out in fits and starts, thanks to the occasional niggling injury, but he’s often performed well on the back of significant breaks. Tom George’s charge ran really well on both of his appearances at Cheltenham in 2018 and could give the market leader a real scare.