Glancing Queen will make an offer to give coach Alan King his third Paddy Power Novizis ‘Chase – better known as Dipper Novvices’ Chase – in five years in Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
No fewer than nine runners are slated for the first ranked race of 2022 in what appears to be the most profound renewal in the past two and a half miles in many years.
Last year’s race took place in Wincanton after stagnation of water forced the traditional Cheltenham curtain to be abandoned for the year, and King supplemented his 2018 win with Yanworth while Messire Des Obeaux beat two rivals.
The Glancing Queen, the only mare in the field, won both paddocks after chasing two mares in Bangor and Warwick.
King also had a chance to have the seven-year-old race at Plumpton on Sunday, but admitted he was looking for more track experience ahead of the March Festival.
“I thought Plumpton was pretty sexy too,” laughed King. “We had a chat with the team and owners and decided to go to Cheltenham. It looks like a great renovation.
“She is in good condition, on Thursday morning we gave her some school and we hope she will run very well.
“Thinking ahead, I just thought it would be nice to give her some training in Cheltenham before March. It was in the back of my mind.
“She’s been to some Cheltenhams and ran very well in the mares bumper last year, but I felt from a hunting standpoint that it would be good for her to walk around and we’ll see what happens.”
Among his rivals is the Venetia coached by Williams The busy man, who ran a 13-length winner of a graduation chase at Ascot two weeks ago.
The six-year-old has been increased another 12 pounds since his last run and is 20 pounds more than when he won in Exeter on December 3.
Hales to test Millers Bank Festival credentials
Bank of millers, who last ousted Harry Bannister on a second-grade novice hunt in Newbury, is ready to restore his noble reputation.
He’s officially rated 1lb higher than L’Homme Presse with a score of 149 and coach Alex Hales is hoping last season’s third-place Aintree Hurdle will give him two out of three wins over the fences, despite prevailing on flat slopes.
Hales said: “I don’t see why the track wouldn’t suit him. He ran most of his run on flat tracks, but it’s more by accident. It was just the way the races went.
“It is the ideal option to see if a rolling track would suit him and then if we will be able to go back there for the Festival, or we will jump and go to Aintree. Cheltenham is not the all and the end – all.
“I thought Venetia’s horse was very impressive at Ascot, but I also thought our horse would learn a lot from Newbury, so if he did, he’s in a great position. He’s in great shape and we can’t wait. “
Fantastic, who chased Threeunderthrufive home in Doncaster, sets out to give Nigel Twiston-Davies his first Dipper winner. His son, Sam Twiston-Davies, renews the partnership after Jordan Nailor replaced his previous run.
“It is a tough and difficult game,” said the coach. “I thought the race was going to stop and it didn’t. We have a good chance for a place and he is in good shape.”
Tom George hopes so Come on Teddy, who won with his hunting bow in Uttoxeter, can learn a lot from this step in class.
“He’s fine, we’re happy with him and it’s a great stepping stone for him. He won well at Uttoxeter and will learn a little from that, so we’re ready for the next step,” he said.
“He always intended to improve beyond the barriers and will probably improve even when he goes a little further. Let’s see how we go.”
Quality abounds with Nicky Henderson represented by Gallyhill, while Colin Tizzard saddles Oscar Elite. The field is completed by the training of Jane Williams The gladiator Allen and Sophie Leech’s With you.