Close Brothers Novices Chase Tips - 4:50pm Cheltenham

2019 Close Brothers Novice Handicap Chase Preview

Registered as the Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase and was first ran in 2005. It’s for horses rated 0-145 having previously been 0-140 until last year and is often a very tight handicap with only a few pounds separating the top and bottom weights.

It’s quite tricky for trainers to aim at this race due to narrow rating band it produces and the most successful one is Nicky Henderson who has won it once and had no less than five runners-up. The Irish have only won it twice since the race was established, the last time with Tully East in 2017.

This year Henderson relies on the 7yo Lough Derg Spirit who gets in the race on a mark of 142. He certainly has the right profile having won last time out and looked pretty impressive that day when slamming Lillington by 12 lengths. That horse has won since and the form looks solid.

Top weight Highway One O One is interesting, the 7yo has been running in some decent races this season and unfortunately bumped into Dynamite Dollars a couple of times. Last time out he had his first run at this sort of trip and came through that test with a very decent effort behind Kildisart here at Cheltenham. He was put up 2lbs but that just allows him a tilt at this prize.

Paul Nicholls won this race back in 2009 and runs Movewiththetimes here, he’s yet to complete this season so would be an unusual winner of the race and would certainly be bucking the trends. He was odds on at Fakenham for his chasing debut when coming down at the 8th fence.

Next time out he lined up in the BetVictor Gold Cup here at Cheltenham and was running a decent race only to fall at the last, he was in fourth place at the time and while he wouldn’t have got any closer it was a good effort. 

He was rated 6lbs higher over hurdles so you would have to think he’s well handicapped on 140 at present and with the yard in such good form he has to go on the shortlist.

We have a pretty strong Irish challenge this year and Gordon Elliott leads the charge with Cubomania. The 6yo has been very consistent this season and actually won here at Cheltenham back in October. He holds his form well and looks sure run a decent race.

Stablemate Roaring Bull has won twice over fences this season including a 14 length victory at Naas last month. That was a step forward and could be coming into form at the right time.

Riders Onthe Storm is a 6yo trained by Tom Taaffe and is one of the least exposed horses in the race. He only won once over hurdles so was always going to be a better chaser and opened his account last time out at Punchestown on his third start over the bigger obstacles.

He has got in here on a mark of 140 and that looks pretty lenient to me and would expect him to improve on that figure at some stage.

Josepg O'Brien is not known for his handicap chasers but he saddles Tower Bridge, the 6yo makes his handicap debut after three starts over fences. Last time out he was a good second to the useful Duc Des Genievres at Gowran. He's been given an opening mark of 141 which is a couple of punds below his hurdle mark.

The yard also run Shady Operator, he has one win from three starts and was a decent 4th to Ballyward last time out, he could well at a decent price an Mark Walsh rides.

One more Irish runner to look at is A Plus Tard from the Cheveley Park Stud.  Trained by Henry de Bromhead who is having a terrific season, this 5yo has only had three starts since coming over from France.

He had won twice over hurdles already so went straight over fences for his Irish debut and was a good second at Gowran Park.

He then beat the useful Duc Des Genievres at Naas and was 2nd in a Grade 3 contest last time out. He is another one that could be one step ahead of the handicapper.

Punters Lounge Tip: Highway One O One EW 16/1 at Bet365 - Click Here To Bet

Close Brothers Novices Chase Trends
Close Brothers Novices Chase Previous Winners
2019A Plus Tard5Henry de BromheadRacheal Blackmore5/1
2018Mister Whitaker6Mick ChannonBrian Hughes13/2
2017Tully East7Alan FlemingDenis O'Regan8/1
2016Ballyalton9Ian WilliamsBrian Hughes12/1
2015Irish Cavalier6Rebecca CurtisPaul Townend11/1
2014Present View6Jamie SnowdenBrendan Powell8/1
2013Rajdhani Express6Nicky HendersonSam Waley-Cohen16/1
2012Hunt Ball7Keiran BurkeNick Scholfield13/2
2011Divers7Ferdy MurphyGraham Lee10/1
2010Copper Bleu8Philip HobbsRichard Johnson12/1
2009Chapoturgeon5Paul NichollsTimmy Murphy8/1

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