RSA Novices Chase Guide

1. Count Meribel

Trainer - Nigel Twiston-Davies

Jockey - Mark Grant

Cracking start to his novice chase career, with wins at Carlisle and most notably Cheltenham, in a decent Class Two featuring some classy rivals.

Came unstuck at Ascot in a higher grade, and will need to provide much more here than that day.

Front runner.

2. Crucial Role

T - Dan Skelton

J -

Two wins this season in Class Three's, but two defeats when racing at a higher levels.

Third looks good on paper in a Grade Two at Haydock, but this is going to be much tougher in a race attracting the best around.

Pulled up on last start over three miles, which was last year's Albert Bartlett.

3. Delta Work

T - Gordon Elliott

J -

Three from three this term, including two Grade One's at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown latest.

Last year's narrow winner of the Pertemps Final is the only horse to have beaten Joseph O'Brien's Le Richebourg this term, and appears to be going from strength-to-strength.

Could be preferred to Santini on the injury front.

4. Drovers Lane

T - Rebecca Curtis

J -

Arrives fresh after his victory here back in December, and has been waited with ever since.

Lightly raced and progressive, as he now steps back up in trip to three miles since his bitter disappointment at Aintree in October.

Highest career mark, and will need to deliver a top effort.

5. Mister Malarky

T - Colin Tizzard

J -

Produced a career best to land the rearranged Grade Two Reynoldstown Novices Chase at Ascot latest.

Despite idling before the last, the 6yo stayed on well on the flat and was always in command.

Another step needed, but open to further improvement.

6. Mortal

T - Joseph O'Brien

J -

Rare Gigginstown runner for Joseph O'Brien, Mortal has plenty to find off the basis of his stone cold last in the Grade One Flogas Novice Chase, won by La Bague Au Roi.

Eight lengths down on Delta Work over Christmas, and plenty to find since his debut win over fences back at the beginning of December.

7. Now McGinty

T - Stuart Edmunds

J - Tom O'Brien

Consistent type, who may find himself in deep waters here.

Aside from unseating at Huntingdon, the 8yo has not been outside the top two in any race in his last seven starts - a run stretching back January last year.

Good second to Mister Malarky at Ascot last time out, but like the latter, needs to be at his best to make the frame.

8. On The Blind Side

T - Nicky Henderson

J -

Very lightly raced 7yo, who won a couple of Grade Two's last season over hurdles.

Flopped in a Grade One at Aintree, and took time to adapt to the larger obstacles, but got the hang of things again in a lower grade at Kempton latest.

Back up to the top level, but this could bring the best out of him.

9. Santini

T - Nicky Henderson

J - Nico De Boinville

Was the favourite for this race after his rallying on third in the Kauto Star over Christmas, until recent injury concerns have forced him to drift somewhat in the market.

A Grade One winning hurdler, he will suit the return to a left handed-track and the iconic hill at Prestbury Park in mind, having placed in last year's Albert Bartlett.

Top class individual who is a leading player, and needs to do the talking on the track.

10. The Worlds End

T - Tom George

J - Paddy Brennan

Eyecatching start over fences, with a simple success at Chepstow in a Beginners Chase - holding form with Now McGinty.

Sadly underwhelmed at Cheltenham when sent off an even-money favourite, before recovering in emphatic style at the same venue - albeit in a lower grade.

Last of the finishers in the Grade One at Kempton over Christmas against many of these rivals, so needs to reproduce his best.

11. Topofthegame

T - Paul Nicholls

J - Harry Cobden

Interesting contender, who went for home just too early under this jockey in the Kauto Star at Kempton on Boxing Day - but equally, the form has been boosted by the winner prevailing again.

His debut caught many people's eyes at Exeter, after surrendering a twenty-five length lead at the start, he rallied gamely to only finish three lengths down on the winner Defi Du Seuil - favourite for the JLT.

Good festival form having finished second in last year's Coral Cup, but needs to start getting his head in front.

Very well fancied by his trainer.

12. Top Ville Boy

T - Philip Kirby

J -

Very well fancied for the Reynoldstown last time out after two stand out performances at Hexham and Wetherby, but did not live up the hype - fading back to last of the five.

Just three starts over fences, so plenty of time ahead.

Can afford no mistakes here though.

13. Drinks Interval

T - Colin Tizzard

J -

Front running 7yo, who could not land a hat-trick of wins in a Listed race at Market Rasen, when falling three out with the race at her mercy.

Remained in Class One company since, and came unstuck twice; finishing second and third - but well behind and not a figure in both.

Likeable mare, but hard to provide a case for in this highly competitive affair.

MPU

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