Cheltenham Festival Ante-Post: Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

2m4f Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed) – Tuesday 10th March 2020

The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase is always an intriguing race, aimed at Novice Chasers who aren’t quite yet up to Grade 1 standard. The rating band was changed in 2018 from a 0-140 to a 0-145, attracting a highly competitive field with just 7lbs between the top and bottom weights in 2019, and 8lbs in 2018 (excluding any claims). The race was extremely kind to my selections twelve months ago, with leading fancy A Plus Tard bolting up, and my second selection Tower Bridge following him home. The performance of A Plus Tard from a rating of 144 was that of an incredibly well Handicapped Horse, which has since been proven by him landing a Grade 1 at Leopardstown and earning a mark of 165. A similar story applies to 2018 winner Mister Whitaker, who won the Grade 2 Silver Trophy Handicap in April from a mark of 149 (12lbs higher than when winning this contest). This highlights the type of Horse required to win the race however, as essentially the weights are now irrelevant; Horses who wish to participate will need a mark of 140 to guarantee themselves a run, but obviously cannot be rated higher than 145. Whilst it is no longer an issue winning the race off top-weight, it will inevitably require a Horse who is ahead of the assessor.

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Cheltenham Ante-Post #2 – Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Final

Ante-Post Preview #2 – 22/01/2019

3m Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Final (Grade 3) – Thursday 14th March 2019

The Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Final is the concluding race in a series of Pertemps Qualifiers ran at various tracks from October through February. This ultra-competitive Handicap is run over three-miles and requires a horse to have finished in the first six of a qualifying race. Ran on Day Three of the Cheltenham Festival, this Grade 3 has been won by some brilliant horses – including Presenting Percy and Delta Work in recent years. The Pertemps Final is a unique race in that although horses need to qualify to run, they don’t necessarily want to win a qualifier as it could jeopardise their Handicap mark. Equally, you need to have a mark which is high enough to get into the race as a maximum field is all but guaranteed.

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