For many, the Class-2 Steel Plate And Sections Novices Chase (2.05, Friday) is the highlight of the first day Of Cheltenham’s Open Meeting, and recent renewals have been won by some high-class horses in Grand Crus, Dynaste, Taquin De Seuil and Champagne West, whilst this year’s Betvictor Gold Cup favourite More Of That won last year’s contest. All 5 of those horses were also very popular in the market, going off at 13/8, 7/4, 3/1, 7/2 and 15/8.
The only trainer to have won any of those 5 renewals who is represented here is Phillip Hobbs, though his representative Rock The Kasbah will have to do something that no previous winner has done in carrying the maximum weight of 11-10. Indeed, 4 of the aforementioned 5-winners have won this on their chasing debut, and horses who haven’t previously won a chase get to carry just 11-2.
7 Horses are set to go to post for the 2016 Steel Plate And Sections Novices Chase.
Rock The Kasbah
Only third favourite when a convincing winner of a class-2 novices chase at Chepstow, with Theinval (now 8lb better off) back in third. Has to give 3lb-8lb to all his rivals, and he was rated a few pounds lower than some of those over hurdles.
Big things are expected of the 5-year-old over fences but, after winning his debut chase as expected, he wasn’t going like the winner when falling in the race won by Rock The Kasbah. Sent off second favourite that day, he was also rated a few pounds lower than some of his rivals, and must concede 5lb to some of them.
Easy winner of his first novice chase at 3/10, but the 5lb penalty he must carry for that will make his task that much harder against some of the others. Has decent course form over hurdles though, having finished third to Yorkhill and Yanworth at in last season’s Neptune Hurdle.
Won a handicap hurdle off a mark of 144, and every chance of turning the form around with Rock The Kasbah on these revised terms. However, all his best form has come on flat tracks.
Always considered to be a chaser, his trainer looks to have shrewdly kept him under wraps so that he runs here without a penalty. He was also top-rated over hurdles, and certainly wasn’t disgraced when outstayed in last season’s Albert Bartlett over 3-miles. His stable has also been red-hot this week.
Would be officially second-best on the ratings if this was a hurdle race, but his two runs at Cheltenham have been his two worst. Stable yet to hit peak form too, but bold show not ruled out.
First run for new trainer Colin Tizzard, and likely to be a better chaser than he was a hurdler, but does need to find quite a bit on hurdle ratings.
2016 Steel Plate And Sections Novices Chase Tip
Barters Hill looks to have everything going for him on his chasing debut. He’s proved he handles Cheltenham, his stable is in red-hot form, and he gets weight from rivals who were rated lower than him over hurdles. He does have to prove he can jump, but he looks an excellent fit statistically.