Views from connections ahead of Saturday's BetBright Chase at Kempton as Bury Parade bids to defy top weight.
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Bury Parade aims to give Highclere Thoroughbred Racing a rare significant winner over jumps in Saturday's BetBright Chase at Kempton.
Highclere's syndicate members are more used to dusting off their finery for a trip to Royal Ascot than turning up for National Hunt fixtures in the middle of winter, but the successful operation have branched out into the jumping game in recent years.
Bury Parade cost connections £100,000 after winning four races in the north for Robert Bewley, but early results for new trainer Paul Nicholls suggested it was an expensive purchase.
However, he has turned things around this season, winning two of his three starts, and looks set to go off favourite for the Grade Three handicap chase over three miles.
Highclere racing manager Harry Herbert said: "Bury Parade is in great form and we were thrilled with his last run at Ascot.
"He seems to be progressing and obviously goes on the ground, which is a big plus.
"It's a tough race, but he deserves to take his chance and it's great for his owners to have a runner in a race of this nature."
The one blip so far this term for the eight-year-old was when he refused to jump off on his penultimate start at Exeter.
He was far more amenable when fitted with a hood at Ascot, however, and Herbert is hopeful he will again put his best foot forward.
"A lot has been made of what happened at Exeter, I don't think it's a major issue," said Herbert.
"When he didn't jump off at Exeter, he was spooked when the tape went up and then he was spooked again when they were waving behind him. You could see why he did it.
"The hood helped at Ascot and he was as good as gold, so hopefully he'll be fine from now on."
The Noel Fehily-ridden Bury Parade is one of three runners for Nicholls, with principal rider Daryl Jacob booked for Grandioso and Nick Scholfield set to get the leg up on Jump City.
The classiest horse in the race is the Philip Hobbs-trained veteran Planet Of Sound.
It is almost four years since the 12-year-old enjoyed his finest hour in the Punchestown Gold Cup, but he has dropped down the weights since and showed he retains plenty of ability when winning over course and distance in early January.
Jockey Richard Johnson said: "He's not getting any younger, but he seems in very good form and the handicapper only put him up 4lb for winning last time, which I think is realistic.
"His last win was the first time he has got his head in front for a long time, so hopefully that will have given him a bit of a confidence boost.
"Everyone knows what he is, but there are a lot of positives and if he's in the right frame of mind, you'd hope he could run very well in what is a very open and competitive race."
Standing Ovation won four races in the space of a month for David Pipe early in the season before failing to fire at Cheltenham's Open meeting in November.
The seven-year-old has since enjoyed a mid-season break, but the Pond House handler is far from bullish about his chances on Saturday.
Pipe said: "It wasn't plan A to come here, but the race cut up a lot at the five-day stage.
"He was out of the handicap originally, but then a number of the top weights came out and things changed dramatically.
"The run at Cheltenham in November was just one too many, but he's had a good break since then.
"I'm sure he'll improve a bit for the run and whether he'll handle the ground or not, I don't know. We'll find out on Saturday."
Ardkilly Witness bolted up in a novice chase at Wincanton on Boxing Day and went down fighting when runner-up on his handicap debut at Sandown.
Trainer Dr Richard Newland said: "He's in good order and I think he's got every chance.
"These big races are never easy to win, but he certainly deserves his place in the field.
"He won well at Wincanton and I think he just got very tired in that very heavy ground at Sandown going up the hill. But for that, I think he'd probably have won.
"I think a flatter track like Kempton on ground that hopefully won't be quite as testing will suit him better.
"I'm very hopeful."
Tom George has won this race twice in the last five years with Nacarat and saddles Whats Happening this time around.
"I only really left him in as I saw everything else was dropping out, so this wasn't part of a long-term plan or anything," said George.
"I can't say he's thrown in at the weights, but he's a good young horse who ran well at Leicester last time.
"It doesn't look the strongest of renewals, if truth be told."
First-season trainer Dan Skelton feels Baile Anrai is capable of getting into the money again having filled the runner-up spot in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster last month.
Skelton said: "This has been the plan since he finished second at Doncaster and he seems in very good form.
"The race has worked out quite nicely for him as he was out of the handicap at the original entry stage.
"Now it has cut up, he's in the handicap proper and hopefully goes there with a reasonable each-way squeak in an open type of race.
"I'd prefer it if it didn't rain at all between now and the race."
Trainer Caroline Keevil has been targeting this race with Bally Legend for a while.
She said: "It's not his ideal ground, though he does cope with it soft and it's certainly better than heavy.
"There are still so many positives, not least Kempton being his favourite track, which is why we set sights on this race a long time ago.
"He ran well above expectations in a jumpers' bumper at Kempton and his work at home since then has been very good."
The Venetia Williams-trained Niceonefrankie, Nigel Twiston-Davies' Tour Des Champs and Alan King's duo Bless The Wings and Midnight Appeal complete the 13-runner field.