The Chepstow October meeting is, for me, the proper start of new National Hunt season and this year’s renewal is perhaps one of the best yet.
13:00 Novices’ Hurdle 2m 11y
We get off to a great start with a Class 4 novices’ hurdle but featuring unbeaten Knappers Hill making his hurdles debut after an impressive win in the Aintree Grade 2 bumper. Unsurprisingly a 1/5 shot.
13:35 Novices’ Chase 2m 7 1/2f
A four runner Class 2 novices’ chase and another potential star, this time in the shape of Threeunderthrufive (6/4) who, as the Racing Post verdict says, “is a very exciting prospect for the season ahead”.
So, we have a winning double before race three (I love the early season).
14:10 Veterans’ Chase 2m 7 1/2f
Some great names here – Geordie Des Champs, Potters Corner, Vieux Lion Rouge, Double Shuffle and Dancing Shadow. Not a strong view here but I’m just inclined towards Geordie Des Champs (9/2) to make it a three timer after a break of 113 days.
14:45 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle 2m 3 1/2f
The first Grade 2 of the season and, generally, a good marker for what lies in store. It’s a Nicholls Henderson head to head on the face of it with Paso Doble and First Street but I’m going with Coeur Serein to make it four wins in a row at 5/1 for Jonjo O’Neill (senior and junior). I may also hazard a minor place bet on Hidden Heroics (14/1), a Fairyhouse point to point winner on his only previous outing, bought for £60,000 and could be anything.
15:20 Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 4-y-o Hurdle 2m 11y
I don’t normally add the sponsor’s name to these previews but had to give credit to the excellent Paul Ferguson who many of us know from various Liverpool haunts (generally Dominic and Fiona’s). It’s great to see him recognised at this prelude meeting. That said, this is appropriately a very difficult race and I’m taking a chance with Hell Red (100/30), a promising horse who may have run with a lot more in store when 9th in the Boodles’ at the Cheltenham Festival and subsequently won well in a Class 4 at Newton Abbot last April.
15:55 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle 2m 3 1/2f
Nina The Terrier (13/8) should win this with something in hand.
16:25 Conditionals’ Handicap Chase 2m 7 1/2f
A total lottery. Best avoided.