Grade One Mildmay Novices' Chase Guide 2021

Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:50
1
Nico de Boinville

Chantry House

J:
 
Nico de Boinville
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 159
Days: 22

The JP McManus owned gelding first took the eye when winning at Warwick in decent bumper on heavy ground which saw him beat the likes of Edwardstone and Shan Blue, who both go on to become established national hunt horses.

Having just the one spin under rules he was next seen again in December 2019, this time on his hurdles debut at Cheltenham, just doing enough to see off the likes of Stolen Silver, Pipesmoker and Pileon.

All of those horses went on to win next time out and frank Chantry House's form, it was then left for the Nicky Henderson runner to do the same and he obliged at Newbury winning hard held.

This set him up perfectly for a crack at the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival where he finished a valiant third behind two superstars in stablemate Shishkin and Abacadabras.

The Seven Barrows handler always said that Chantry House would make into a nice chaser and he looked to be a star in the making over the bigger obstacles on debut at Ascot.

Although seeing off a tame field he went on to win the event by 26 growing lengths and off that performance it is going to take a smart horse to beat him.

He then went to Cheltenham and ran no sort of race, finishing third of four runners behind stablemate Fussil Raffles, but he looked a shadow of himself.

Henderson admitted he had a back problem and with that rectified he went to Wetherby in February and got back to winning ways in fine style.

Chantry House improved massively for that run last time out when taking advantage of the fall by Envoi Allen to land the Grade One Marsh Novices' Chase.

The gelding stayed out the trip well and his handler believes he will get three miles and is taking a chance with him now over the trip.

If handling the step up is the one to beat.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
09/04/21AIN25GS11-41
18/03/21CHL20GS11-41
17/02/21WET21.5Sft11-41
12/12/20CHL20.5Sft11-53
20/11/20ASC19Sft11-11
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:50
4
Robbie Power

Fiddlerontheroof

J:
 
Robbie Power
T:
 
Colin Tizzard
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 152
Days: 23

Fiddlerontheroof burst onto the novice hurdle scene last season with an impressive win in the Grade One Tolworth at Sandown on deep ground. 

He looked severely outpaced in the Supreme and could only manage 11th. A long break saw him return to the track as a chaser in October. A tight three runner field, he ran well enough for his first outing with If The Cap Fits running out the winner. 

His next start yielded his only chase win to date as he has since come second in three Grade Two races over fences. 

Beaten by Caribean Boy at Newbury over 2.5 miles and then Allart over the same trip at Ascot, Fiddlerontheroof was sent off favourite both times and found one too good on each occasion. 

Moved up in trip for his latest outing, he again only contested in a small field. Coming second this time to Next Destination, he looked at home over three miles and can be excused as he burst a blood vessel in running. 

It was another second for the Bridesmaid last time out at Cheltenham in the Grade One Brown Advisory Novices' Chase, this time giving a career best performance to only be beaten by Monkfish.

He has some classy form in the book this season, but has found winning difficult. Second on five of his six outings he looks to have place credentials again and he should revel in the trip.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
09/04/21AIN25GS11-43
17/03/21CHL24.5GS11-42
16/01/21WAR24Sft11-02
18/12/20ASC19Sft11-02
27/11/20NBY20Gd11-12
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:50
3
David Bass

Espoir De Romay

J:
 
David Bass
T:
 
Kim Bailey
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 155
Days: 28

Espoir De Romay for Kim Bailey and David Bass is a lightly raced seven year old only being seen eight times during his career, but he looks a stour stayer in the making.

Having been a smart hurdler winning two of his five events and then finishing midfield in the 2020 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle, he has since turned into a superb chaser.

The gelding made his debut this term at Huntingdon in November on good ground over 2m4f and he saw off a fair field to win easily.

He was next turned out at Haydock in December on differing heavy ground where he once again ran a cracker to finish second behind the highly talented Royale Pagaille.

Having skipped the Cheltenham festival in favour of this race, he had a prep run in March at Leicester in a Handicap Chase where he ran out an emphatic winner hard held.

He is a horse that stays the trip well, is versatile when it comes to ground and is highly unexposed when it comes to some of these in the field and he could be the value.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
12/03/21LEI20Hy11-101
02/12/20HAY21.5Hy11-52
01/11/20HUN20Gd11-21
13/03/20CHL20.5Sft11-60
30/01/20WCN20Sft12-01
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:50
5
Harry Skelton

Shan Blue

J:
 
Harry Skelton
T:
 
Dan Skelton
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 150
Days: 22

Having been a fair hurdler, this season he has taken his form to the next level by making his chase debut at Wetherby in October over 2m4f and winning by 14 lengths.

Off the back of that he went back to Wetherby and was stepped up to three miles for the first time in his career and he went on again to win by 16 lengths.

He showed clear stamina that day and his biggest asset is how well he jumps a fence, which made the Skelton's happy enough to send him to Kempton for the Grade On Kauto Star Novices' Chase.

He took on some nice horses including The Big Breakaway and blew them away in the final stages, jumping his rivals into submission.

Last time out he was pitched back into Grade One company at Sandown in the Scilly Isles Chase and although jumping well was outstayed by Sporting John.

Shan Blue last time out went to the Cheltenham festival in the Marsh Novices' Chase and although jumping well to start with and going from the front he was easily passed and outclassed at the shorter trip, by some in this field.

The longer trip of Friday will help him but he needs to bounce back to form in a race that looks competitive.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
09/04/21AIN25GS11-42
18/03/21CHL20GS11-45
06/02/21SAN20Hy11-42
26/12/20KEM24GS11-71
30/10/20WET24GS11-101
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:50
8
Harry Cobden

The Big Breakaway

J:
 
Harry Cobden
T:
 
Colin Tizzard
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 148
Days: 23

A lovely big horse for Colin Tizzard, The Big Breakaway rounded off an impressive novice hurdle campaign by coming fourth in the Ballymore behind Envoi Allen. 

Tapped for speed, he stayed on well in the Ballymore and looked a three mile chaser in the making.

He made his reappearance over fences at Cheltenham in a three mile novice event and despite looking green and novice-like, he scampered home to an impressive 10 length victory. 

A run at Exeter next time out didn’t go to plan as he was over an inadequate trip, trying to make his own running. Tracked by Bold Plan, the eventual winner just beat him for pace close to home. 

We last saw the six year old in the Kauto Star Novices’ chase at Kempton. A credible performance, he still looked like a big baby. His jumping let him down and he couldn’t make up the ground on Shan Blue. 

Having had a break since his run at Christmas he was sent into the Grade One Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham festival and finished a credible third.

He ran a cracking race for a long way that day, just being outstayed after a mistake and if building on that has big claims in this.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
09/04/21AIN25GS11-4P
17/03/21CHL24.5GS11-43
26/12/20KEM24GS11-72
04/12/20EXE19Sft11-82
15/11/20CHL24.5Sft11-01
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:50
7
Tom O'Brien

Sporting John

J:
 
Tom O'Brien
T:
 
Philip Hobbs
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 153
Days: 23

Trained by Phillip Hobbs, owned by J P McManus, the six year old had a good novice hurdling season which culminated in a less than stellar seventh in a strong Ballymore. 

His chasing career didn’t get off to the best of starts, debuting at Exeter he weakened rapidly and finished 33 lengths behind Fiddlerontheroof despite going off favourite. 

However, when last seen at Sandown in the Scilly Isles Novice chase, Sporting John fulfilled his potential and beat Kauto Star winner Shan Blue convincingly. 

The six year old has bounced back to form and despite a few mistakes his big engine and natural talent saw him land Grade One spoils.

Sporting John has shaped like going further up in trip will unlock more progression, but his run at Cheltenham in the Grade One Brown Advisory Novices' Chase was woeful.

He ultimately fell, but was already beat a long way at that point and he will need to swiftly put that run behind him to go close here.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
09/04/21AIN25GS11-4P
17/03/21CHL24.5GS11-4F
06/02/21SAN20Hy11-41
11/11/20EXE19GS11-23
11/03/20CHL21Sft11-77
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:50
6
NON-RUNNER

Silver Hallmark

J:
 
NON-RUNNER
T:
 
Fergal O'Brien
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 145
Days: 76

The penultimate runner in this race on Friday is the Fergal O'Brien trained Silver Hallmark that is the mist unexposed horse in the field.

Having shown ability in both bumpers and over hurdles, this term he was sent over fences and has been seen to good effect on both runs.

He made his seasonal debut at Exeter when narrowly being beaten by Fiddlerontheroof, seeing off Sporting John by over 30 lengths.

He then got off the mark for the season last time out when beating Allart, Marown and Galahad Quest in a Grade Two event at Haydock over 2m4f.

The form of that race is very strong with the latter two horses since going on to win next time out, but the step up to three miles makes him vulnerable against some of these proven stayers.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
23/01/21HAY20Hy11-01
11/11/20EXE19GS11-22
04/01/20SAN16Sft11-77
06/11/19CHP16Sft11-51
02/03/19NBY16.5GS11-23
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:50
2
Ryan Mania

Empire Steel

J:
 
Ryan Mania
T:
 
Sandy Thomson
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 140
Days: 49

The final runner and big outsider of the field is the Sandy Thompson trained Empire Of Steel, who although performing to a fine standard this term, looks vulnerable stepping up into Group One company.

Having made his hurdles debut in December 2019 and getting off to a winning start, he then only had one more run over timber, before tackling fences this term.

He has been seen three times over the bigger obstacles and is yet to finish outside the top two, going on to win two of those events.

He is a proven stayer tackling three miles twice this season, but the races he has been contesting are fairly weak and has to improve against these horses.

Might also need softer ground.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
19/02/21KEL23.5Sft11-41
30/11/20AYR24Hy11-42
26/10/20AYR20.5Sft11-121
19/01/20AYR24.5Hy11-43
15/12/19CRL25Sft11-21

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