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Paul Gibson Takes a look at Potential Improvers from the Novice and Handicap Chase Division for 2018/19-- Part Two

16-August-2018 8:33
in General
by Admin

Duel at Dawn

Another son of the great Presenting who, in my opinion is still very well handicapped. 

His first chase win came at Exeter in November on very soft ground beating the Mark Bradstock trained Flintham (rated 131) by 16 lengths off level weights. He has since finished second twice behind Sizing Tennessee at Cheltenham and Ms Parfois in a Listed Novice Chase at Warwick. He then took his chance in the Challenge Cup Grade 2 Novice Chase at the festival where, in my opinion, he just did not stay the 4m trip.

Looking at the way he ran and finished behind the above mentioned horses and taking into consideration the collateral form around them, 139 is a very workable mark in my opinion......24f to 28f......soft ground...galloping track.... and a decent handicap prize should be well within his grasp.


A big strapping son of Stowaway, rated 139 over hurdles, started his chase career at Haydock in a class 2 Novice Chase, over an utterly inadequate 20f, but,only went down half a length in the end which was highly encouraging. He then ran at Leicester in January in a limited handicap, again over 20f, and finished six lengths behind 149 rated Acting Lass. 

His breakthrough win came at Sandown in February in a class two handicap where he absolutely relished the step up to 24f on a stiff track and soft ground and looked to have a lot left in the tank despite the winning margin being only three quarters of a length over Holly Bush Henry. In truth it was a lot more comfortable than the winning distance would suggest. 

Rated 134 ( 5 below his hurdle rating), there will surely be a handicap or two within his grasp this season....24f....soft ground...stiff track.

Optimus Prime

The Dan Skelton trained gelding should only improve with more racing over fences.

This strapping son of Deportivo was a decent hurdler in his own right but his previous experiance of chasing in France as a 4yo is set to stand him in good stead when he tackles graded handicaps or higher this season.

He beat the Paul Nicholls trained Tommy Silver at Worcester on his Novice Chase debut and then won again at Plumpton where his jumping prowess really caught the eye in the good to soft ground.

He ran again at Leicester and didnt seem to enjoy the soft/heavy ground that usually ensues at that track, but nevertheless, stuck to his task giving the Oliver Sherwood trained Rayvin Black (132) a stone despite the conditions.

A bold move by his trainer led to him being entered for the Grade one Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown. In truth he had no chance with Footpad but neither did the rest of the field and Optimus Prime finished a wonderful second.

Rated 147 at the start of this season, and still only a six year old, I would be amazed if there was not more to come over 16f......good to soft/soft ground (not Heavy, remember Leicester) in Graded or graded handicap races. 


There will be a lot of you who know a lot about this Willie Mullins 6yo but I am putting him in because I think there is a lot more to come from this son of Voix Du Nord.

In the Grade 3 Novice chase which he won very easily over 3 miles on heavy ground, he beat the Gordon Elliott trained Tombstone by 8 lengths, frankly it could have been a lot more. He then took his chance in a Grade A Punchestown handicap which again, he disposed of the field with ease by 5 lengths carrying top weight, beating the Henry De Bromhead trained A Rated (143), giving him 17lb and beating.

I've rated him around the 165 mark, the Irish Handicapper has him at 157. Graded Chases beckon over 24f....soft/heavy ground....grade one track no problem....Its just a matter of weather we get value at the right price in the right race. I personally think he is a very exciting horse.

Thomas Patrick

This is a horse that both Pete and I really love and I know Pete thinks that under the right conditions this horse could take one or more of the Nationals in a couple of years.

A 6yo son of Winged love has any amount of improvement in him, winning on his Novice Chase debut at Chepstow over 3 miles on heavy ground ( a more testing 3 miles in heavy you wont find at any other track), he beat the Mark Bradstock trained Step Back by four and half lengths and has not looked back since. Step back was a subsequent winner of the Bet 365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April, franking that form in no uncertain manner. 

Thomas Patrick went for the Devon National over 3m6f at Exeter on heavy ground back in February and he either found this coming too soon after his Cheptow effort or it was too far a trip at this stage of his career. Either way he finished a creditable 4th and the drop back to 3m 2f on the flatter track at Newbury four weeks later was just the tonic needed. In the Class 3 Handicap at Newbury, he demolished the field which included his Exeter Conqueror Dawson City, by 8 lengths. After another short break he turned up at Aintree and showed his versatility for tracks, (the Mildmay course being flat, tight, sharp bends) which will stand him in good stead going forward. He took this Grade 3 handicap without much fuss beating the Evan Williams horse, On Tour, by 4 lengths. 

Only a 6yo at the time of writing the world is at his feet in the staying handicap chase division, I am sure he will get further as he gets older but dont be suprised if this horse turns up at Newbury in November for the Hennessy, after a prep run, he will be a live contender given soft ground.

It would not suprise me at all if his up and coming young trainer had earmarked the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton as an early season target prior to a tilt at Newbury's premier jumps handicap.


Part 3, the final 5, will follow on friday Morning

Hope you enjoy

Paul Gibson ( twitter @sonofgib1209)

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