Northern Trust Novices Chase Tips - 4:50pm Cheltenham

2020 Northern Trust Handicap Chase Preview

A brand new sponsor for the Festival this year in the shape of Northern Trust, they take over the Novices’ handicap chase which was known as the Close Brothers Chase who have now attached their name to the Mares Hurdle.

It’s another tricky puzzle for the punters as although it’s a handicap there is normally no more than 7lbs from top to bottom and many are lightly raced over fences and have scope for much more than their present handicap mark.

A good example is if you at last year’s winner, A Plus Tard won off a mark of 144, just twelve months later he is on a figure of 165 and fancied for the Ryanair Chase this time round. It’s just trying to work out which trainer has expertly got their charge into that 7lb window of opportunity without busting a gut to get there.

Imperial Aura fits the bill for local trainer Kim Bailey, he knows how to work the system and has his 7yo on 143 after three starts over fences. He kicked off with simple task at Fakenham where both of his rivals failed to complete the course, he then came here and ran over three miles and was beaten 8 lengths by Pym. His mark stayed on 136 which was his hurdles figure so needed to nudge that up to get qualified for this race.

He went back to 2m4f at the trials meeting here in January and ran a nice race to finish behind Simply The Betts, they finished miles clear of the pack and was raised 7lbs for his efforts, that was job done as far as ‘Plan A’ was concerned. You get the feeling he has more to come, he’s a sound jumper, goes on any ground and should be thereabouts.

Dan Skelton has always thought plenty of Beakstown but he has just not clicked yet over fences in his three starts this term. He failed to fire in the Ballymore last year but chasing was always supposed to be where we see him improve. Well at the minute he is still 3lbs lower than his highest mark over the smaller obstacles so he could be well in here if the penny finally drops.

He was second to the useful Sam Spinner on chase debut which was fair enough but then was beaten 10 lengths by Champ over a longer trip at Newbury. He was no match for Mister Fisher back here in December so any thoughts of the Arkle or the Marsh Chase were distinguished. This race offers a good back up plan and its too soon to write him off.

Trainer Mick Channon won this two years ago with Mister Whitaker who was owned by the Radford’s and the same combination team up with a 6yo called Hold The Note.

He was only a 130 rated hurdler and didn’t look anything special on his chase debut at Ludlow back in November. He was beaten 8 lengths by Western Ryder in a Class 4 race and then next time stepped up in class at Kempton. He was going ok when he got hampered so we didn’t really learn anything new.

Last time out he put it all together and was a very good second behind Two For Gold in a Grade 2 contest, he was only beaten half a length and that horse is rated 146. It was a big step up and there is probably more to come.

The Irish trained horses have only won this race three times since it was established in 2005 but more importantly they have won two of the last three renewals so that sounds a lot better.

Gordon Elliott likes to have a tilt at the handicaps and has a decent chance with Galvin, he was a decent 6th in the Ballymore last season behind City Island and although still winless over fences he has shown enough to suggest he is on a workable mark.

Last time out he was a good second to Salsaretta at Punchestown in November and has been given time off since after three quick runs.

Another Irish raider with a squeak is Trainwreck trained by Henry De Bromhead. He has yet to win over fences in seven attempts but his second behind Glamorgan Duke at the Dublin Festival was a very good effort and owners Gigginstwon Stud were very keen for him to line up here.

Venetia Williams has a habit of nicking the odd Festival handicap and her main hope here is with Espoir De Guye a 6yo ridden by Charlie Deutch. The 6yo has only had three starts over fences and has won two of them. Last time out he won by 10 lengths at Ascot and the handicapper has put him up a stone in the weights. His mark of 144 just allows him in this race and he could well have more to offer.

Punters Lounge Tip: Imperial Aura 5/1 at Betfair - Click Here To Bet
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