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The second race on the card on Scottish Grand National day is the Cpms Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase. Run over three miles, this is an interesting event, contested by a handful of smart horses, all of whom are in the early stages of their chase careers.
Can they catch City Chief?
Not too many stand out as holding obvious claims, and the best starting point here is probably the favourite, who in the early betting is City Chief. Nicky Henderson’s runner, who was a smart but lightly-raced hurdler, has taken well to fences this season. He wasn’t a match for Gelino Bello in a two-runner affair at Exeter on debut, but that was a decent first spin for the gelding, who kicked on next time out, winning at Haydock, beating one horse who would rate near the top of this.
The six-year-old took his form to the next level last time out, winning in Grade 2 company at Wetherby. He looked like a good staying type on that occasion, and after some decent rivals there, he’s got a very good chance for a connections who won this race last year with Dusart.
Sail Away rates as the big danger, for Dan Skelton, who is simply not a trainer that can be discounted in handicap races of this nature. This horse is lightly raced and has certainly been used sparingly over fences, but he looked a useful sort when finishing second to Dusart, who went on to win this race, last January, before winning comfortably in Class 3 company at Warwick. He was then off for the best part of 300 days, and he looked as if in need of the run when finishing a keeping-on second at Chepstow when reappearing over two miles, three furlongs last month. With that under his belt and with the return to three miles likely to suit, he can’t be discounted.
Sail Away can do just that
City Chief is likely to go from the front, but he has lots of weight to carry now and a 7lb rise may be enough to deny him a hat-trick. With Sail Away expected to tuck in, after that recent spin should have revved him up, he’s fancied to run down the Henderson horse late in the day. At the very least, he looks the best option at the prices.
Best Bet: Sail Away to Win @ 11/2
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