The jump racing season gets underway at Cheltenham on Friday, with a highly competitive day of racing expected.
Once again, Square in the Air will be sponsoring one of the races on the card – the squareintheair.com Novices’ Chase.
SITA’s Tom Marriott has rounded up the seven runners, with the race going off at 2.35. Here are his thoughts ahead of the big race…
— Square in the Air (@squareintheair) October 26, 2017
Cheltenham – squareintheair.com Novices’ Chase – Class 2 (2.35pm)
Quoted at 20/1 for the Grade 1 Racing Post Arkle following his winning return at Warwick earlier this month, SCEAU ROYAL is undoubtedly the one they all have to beat in the Class 2 Squareintheair.com Novices’ Chase (2.35pm).
He comes into this race with a rating of 154, 8lbs better than his nearest rival MOVEWITHTHETIMES and some 14lbs higher than last year’s winner Marracudja.
On paper, this should be a routine win for SCEAU ROYAL and he looks a fairly safe bet.
BALLYHILL finished just four lengths behind the favourite at Warwick and jumped his fences very smartly.
While he looks likely to come up short again here, he’ll continue to improve when stepped up in trip as the season goes on.
The same can be said for NORTH HILL HARVEY, who’s never jumped a fence under rules before and is likely to go better when upped in trip.
CHITU is a very solid option, having already scored three times over the bigger obstacles.
In novice chases, where a number of the field are still very much learning their trade, backing one with experience can pay dividends.
However, wins at Perth and Towcester are unlikely to cut it at Cheltenham and others are preferred.
MICK THONIC, who wears the same colours as Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John, is another with experience over fences yet is still prone to the odd mistake.
He’s failed to complete four of his last nine starts and has to give weight away to the field for his win over course and distance in the spring.
Paul Nicholls is never far away in a novice chase and his MOVEWITHTHETIMES is a potentially exciting prospect.
With just the five races under his belt, he’s more inexperienced than his rivals but represents a powerful yard that has to be respected.
Having not raced since 11th February, it would take a big debit performances over fences to win this and is maybe one to keep in the notebook for later in the season.
SELECTION: 1st SCEAU ROYAL, 2nd MOVEWITHTHETIMES, 3rd BALLYHILL, 4th MICK THONIC, , 5th CHITU, 6th NORTHHILLHARVEY, 7th PRESENTING WILLIAM