The highlight of Thursday’s action comes at Newbury, where a tidy midweek card sees one of the country’s most exciting novice chase prospects make his debut over fences.
That’s Champ, who will be seen for the first time over the larger obstacles at 2:05.
A dual Grade 1 winning novice hurdler last season, he tasted his only defeat of the season when outspeeded by City Island in the Ballymore, and looked well suited by the step up to three miles when recording an easy success in the Sefton next time out.
Physically, he looks the type to be a better chaser than he was a hurdler, and it’s easy to see why he’s so prominent in antepost markets for the RSA.
That’s not to say he’s got a penalty kick in this, though.
The unit that is Beakstown was pulled up in the Ballymore in which Champ came second in, but has the benefit of a chase run under his belt, with his good second behind Sam Spinner at Wetherby last month.
Being such a large horse, on occasion he seemed to struggle to all of his mass from one side of the fence to the other, but it was far from a poor effort for a debut and he’s a respected rival.
He would obviously need either an under performance from the favourite to win this.
A similar level of hurdling ability to Beakstown was shown by the likeable front runner Dashel Drasher last season. He ended his campaign with four consecutive victories, and though he’d need a large amount of improvement to cope with Champ on this occasion, he’ll surely be competitive at a good level throughout the season, no matter Thursday’s result.
There’s also a decent mares novice hurdle, where Floressa takes on Silver Forever, as well as Pertemps qualifier, where Diablo De Rouhet heads the market in a field also featuring useful names such as Geordie B and Dingo Dollar.
Entries are also out for both the Betfair Chase and King George. 11 are in the Betfair, most notably including Altior, whilst 37 have been put forward for Kempton’s Boxing Day showpiece.