Challow Novices' Hurdle Preview: A Champ In Every Sense

There have been some good winners of the Challow Novices' Hurdle this century, the likes of Denman, Diamond Harry, Reve de Sivola and Taquin du Seuil all having tasted success in this race early in their careers.

Challow Novices' Hurdle Preview: A Champ In Every Sense

There have been some good winners of the Challow Novices' Hurdle this century, the likes of Denman, Diamond Harry, Reve de Sivola and Taquin du Seuil all having tasted success in this race early in their careers.

And with some interesting types among the seven runners for this year’s contest, it should prove an up-to-scratch renewal.

Champ Picture:Pat Healy Photography

The one who looks set to go off a short-priced favourite is the Nicky Henderson-trained Champ Horseform. Henderson has only won this race once before, when another J. P. McManus-owned runner Captain Cutter won in 2013, and Champ arrives with a similarly progressive profile, having won all of his races over hurdles in good style since chasing home the exciting Vinndication on his debut. He looked a long way ahead of his mark when easily winning a handicap over C&D earlier this month, taking a strong hold early and making his way to the front after the fifth flight, his rider then having no option but to let him bowl along. There should be plenty more to come from this unexposed type and he is well worth his place at this level.

Coolanly Picture:Pat Healy Photography

Coolanly Horseform didn’t manage to win in his first season over hurdles in 2017/18, but he had some useful form to his name, including when finishing 12 and three quarter lengths fifth to Lalor in the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, and didn’t need to improve to shed his maiden tag in this sphere in the Hyde Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham (by three and a quarter lengths from Pym) six weeks ago. Admittedly, he was seen to maximum effect the way that race panned out (wide route seemingly favoured), but there is no doubt that he was the best horse on the day, making good progress to take up the running two out and staying on well thereafter. This race looks an obvious next target for him and he commands respect for the Fergal O’Brien yard that won this race with a similar type in Poetic Rhythm 12 months ago.

Kateson, Picture:(Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Perhaps more interesting, though, is Kateson Horseform, who has quickly made up into a useful performer over hurdles, winning both his starts to date. He was sent off favourite on both occasions, giving some indication to the regard in which he’s held, and on his latest victory over C&D he left the impression he is ready for a higher grade. That form looks solid, the front two pulling well clear of the remainder, and the runner-up Mr Pumblechook has since gone on to win a similar event by 10 lengths. Admittedly, Kateson appears to have some quirks – he often refuses to settle – but there’s no denying he possesses plenty of ability, and trainer Tom Lacey was quick to nominate this as his next target in a post-race interview.

The trainer of Mr Pumblechook, Alan King, should have a good idea as to how good Kateson is, and it will be therefore interesting to see how Alsa Mix fares in the market in comparison. The only mare in the field, she is yet to taste defeat, winning a maiden point on debut, and also successful in all three starts under Rules. She showed much improved form from her hurdling debut when taking a sharp rise in class in her stride when winning the Winter Novices' Hurdle at Sandown (by three and a half lengths from Darlac) last time, seeming to relish the heavy ground. There is likely more to come from her, and she will stay beyond two and a half miles in time, so is one to be positive about.

Connections of Brewin’upastorm went to £250,000 to purchase him after he won his sole outing in points and he looks a useful recruit. He was sent off 6/5-on for his hurdling debut at Huntingdon earlier this month and duly justified the confidence behind him with the minimum of fuss, looking well above average as he brushed aside the standard-setter in the closing stages. He has some solid bumper form to his name also – namely his nine-length defeat of subsequent Grade 2 winner Portrush Ted – and he seems sure to go on to better things.

Getaway Trump is another to consider, having won his last two starts over hurdles in good fashion, looking ready for a step up in grade when winning a two-mile novice hurdle by five lengths at Exeter last time. Getaway Trump has already won over this far, so the step back up in trip will be no problem, and trainer Paul Nicholls last won this race with subsequent Gold Cup winner Denman in 2005.

The field is completed by Nestor Park, who found the Hyde Novices’ Hurdle too hot on his first start in this sphere, but improved as expected for that experience when dropped in grade for a maiden at Warwick last time, settling better than on his debut and strong at the finish. Nestor Park will have to improve further to make his mark at this level, but he is entitled to.


On form alone, it is very hard to get away from the claims of Champ, who is clear on weight-adjusted ratings, and has the potential for better still, too. Therefore, anything odds against looks value and he should be backed accordingly. At a bigger price, it is Alsa Mix who makes most appeal, in receipt of the mares’ allowance, and another who almost certainly has her best days ahead of her.

Recommended bet:

Back Champ to win Saturday's Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury at 6/4

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