Thursday’s race of the day – Tips for the opening Novices’ Chase at Carlisle

We take a look through the runners in the opening Novices’ Chase at Carlisle and provides readers with their tips on Thursday 17th October

Some good quality action over the jumps and on the flat on Thursday, with the two biggest prize pots of the afternoon being handed out at Wincanton. It’s to Carlisle where I’ll be casting a watchful eye, however, as some potentially smart novice chasers take to the field in the opening race at 12:15.

Let’s take a look at each of the runners in tomorrow’s opener at Carlisle and to try and figure out which will come on on top.

Buster Valentine

Finished a distant second in the Grade Two Classic Novices’ Hurdle on Trials Day at Cheltenham last season. Was two-from-two before that, but was pulled up on his final outing over hurdles at Ayr after running poorly as the 3/1 favourite. Won on only start between the flags and should progress beyond hurdles mark over the larger obstacles.

Espirit Du Large

Well-beaten twice in Graded company last term, but claimed comfortable ten-length triumphs on both starts in novice hurdles. Looked to have the frame of a chaser last term, but sire’s progeny have won once in 12 starts over fences and Evan Williams’ yard have started the season slowly.

Hill Sixteen

Gathered plenty of experience over hurdles last season, winning once in six starts and placing on four occasions. Won a point-for-point for top trainer Colin Bowe before joining Sue Smith. Only ever ran over two-and-a-half miles last season though, so today’s trip could prove to be a little sharp.


Reached the highest level out of this lot over hurdles, securing a rating of 138 with a couple of comfortable victories at Chepstow in the spring. Stable have gone a little quiet in recent weeks, but Harry Whittington is confident this son of Stowaway will improve over fences and he comes from a good family of chasers.


Harry Whittington will have high hopes for Khage on Thursday.

River Frost

The only horse in the field to have jumped a fence in competition, finishing last on both his starts in novice chases so far. Once touted as a future Graded winner, Ben Haslam’s recruit has slipped dramatically down the ratings in the last 18 months and his decline shows no signs of slowing down.

Smiths Cross

Experienced point-to-pointer, finishing second twice before winning on his third outing between the flags. Failed to win in three starts over obstacles last term, only running on very soft ground. Doesn’t hold much appeal here.

The King Of May

One of the talking horses heading into the 2018 Fred Winter, having progressed nicely as a juvenile. Finished eleventh in that handicap and hasn’t been seen since placing second behind Mont Des Avaloirs in April 2018. Clearly has plenty of talent and Brian Hughes is the prime jockey booking for northern trainer. He’s spent a long time on the sidelines though.

West To The Bridge

Very busy during his novice hurdling campaign, running mostly in handicap company. Managed to win twice on very soft ground and could have more to give over fences. Whether he has the talent of some of his rivals here is debatable, I would suggest, unlikely.


Buster Valentine will make up into a nice novice chaser this term and can be forgiven that poor effort at Ayr when last seen. The King Of May is of interest at a much bigger price too, but I think the one with the most potential over the larger obstacles here is KHAGE.

Comfortably beat a decent sort of Dan Skelton’s by eight-lengths in March, before returning to Chepstow the following month to beat Oleg – who’s already come out and won over fences this term – by a comfortable margin when giving the runner-up 18 pounds at the weights. There’s plenty of confidence from the stable that Khage will be even better over fences and I think he’ll be hard to beat up at Carlisle.