Just A Par the one to beat
Jack Nicol provides a horse-by-horse guide to Boxing Day's Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton Park.
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Got off the mark at the third attempt in chases when winning over course and distance last month but produced a poor effort when a distant sixth at Ascot next time. Bounced back to some kind of form when second to a useful horse at Chepstow but more is definitely needed now that he steps up into graded company and, given his mark of 130, he's going to need to find plenty of improvement. One to rule out.
Another who looks up against it on the bare form, the six-year-old was tailed off when finishing last behind Black Thunder last time out and it's hard to see him reversing the form with that rival, especially on 3lb worse terms.
Unbeaten over fences for Lucinda Russell and is entitled to have a crack at this contest following a nine-length success at Newcastle last time out.
The distances of his last two wins are somewhat flattering, with Streams Of Whiskey leaving him clear when in contention at the last and second last flight respectively.
The six-year-old is another to have excelled since being switched to fences, and, while he has been primarily campaigned in the North, he still looks capable of better and can get competitive at a bigger price for a trainer who doesn't have too many runners at the track.
Just A Par
Former Irish point winner who got off the mark over fences at the second attempt when scoring in very impressive fashion from the re-opposing Third Intention who was 14 lengths back in second place.
That was an improved effort on his chase debut which had seen him beaten 13 lengths by Shotgun Paddy.
Paul Nicholls highlighted him as his horse to follow for 2013/14 in a number of pre-season publications and the manner of his Newbury victory suggests he's a live player for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival if he can follow up here for a trainer who has won this three times in the past.
A wind operation appeared to have worked wonders for this talented sort when he won a match-race at Cheltenham on his reappearance but two subsequent defeats have burst the bubble of hope that run had created. Was beaten 15 lengths into third in last year's renewal and a similar outcome appeals as the best that he can hope for.
Not the greatest turnout considering the six-day declarations and it looks a good opportunity for JUST A PAR to win his second chase.
Paul Nicholls has plenty of time for this young horse who always looked like making up into a better chaser than he was hurdler.
The six-year-old jumped well on his chasing bow but tired late on at Chepstow, however he stripped much fitter at Newbury and looks a genuine RSA Chase contender.
Third Intention is only rated 1lb inferior to Nichollls' ace, however he has been beaten twice since winning a two-runner affair at Cheltenham and this three mile trip seems to stretch him.
Anacotty hasn't lived up to his trainer's high hopes to date, so a bigger threat may be Green Flag who is three out of three over fences in the north but now faces his biggest test.