Tizzard lines up Finian's for Saturday chase debut at Chepstow

For many, Chepstow's two-day meeting this weekend signifies the first shots of the jumps campaign proper, and in Finian's Oscar this year's fixture could feature one of the stars of the entire season.

The Alan Potts-owned Grade 1 winner, who met with his first defeat on his last start at the Punchestown festival when trying to follow up his Mersey Novices' Hurdle win – going down by a short head to Bacardys – has long been talked of as an embryonic chaser.

The five-year-old came from the pointing field and Colin Tizzard is not wasting any time, preparing for this Saturday's Listed contest for his first start over fences at the same track at which Thistlecrack, Cue Card and Native River made their chasing debuts.

"As long as they get the odd drop of rain he's very likely to go there," said Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father.

"He's in pretty good form, he's schooled really well and it's a patchy enough forecast so as long as it's genuine nice ground he'll go. We couldn't be happier with him. We like the track, it's a perfect starting place."

There was good news for jumps fans eager to see Finian's Oscar in action with clerk of the course Keith Ottesen predicting the ground will be somewhere between good and good to soft.

"That's where we are currently and with some rain forecast tomorrow and Wednesday, that should keep it where it is," he said on Monday. "The track's in good nick, it's proper jumping ground on the soft side of good."

With Potts likely to be in attendance, the Tizzards could also get Alary's season under way over hurdles in the Grade 3 Totepool Silver Trophy as they attempt to get the big-money purchase from France to fire on the course in something resembling the manner in which he has been working at home.

Tizzard said: "He's working and schooling really nicely, but then he was going well on our gallops last year and never really produced on the racecourse.

"He's summered really well so we'll just put it down to acclimatising last season. Hopefully he can show us what he was bought to do.

"We've entered him all over the place; we don't know what his ideal trip is and we just thought two and a half, over hurdles, would be nice for him. It's a handicap and he's highly-rated but hopefully we can get him back on track."

The Tizzard/Potts axis could also feature in the Totexacta Handicap Chase with Aintree and Punchestown winner Sizing Codelco.

"If he's up to winning a handicap off 160 he's nearly Gold Cup class," said Tizzard.

"He won well in the spring but may well pay for it. It's a nice starting place and if he was capable of competing off that mark perhaps we could target the Hennessy. We don't want to chuck him in the Charlie Hall, as Cue Card is all lined up to go there, so it has to be a handicap."

While Cue Card is heading to Wetherby, updating on some of the yard's other stars, Tizzard added: "Thistlecrack started cantering at the beginning of last week and everything's gone to plan so far.

"We nearly entered West Approach on Sunday but he wants it a bit softer. He's schooling well and is one of our more exciting novice chasers.

"Royal Vacation might take the Wetherby hurdle route to the Hennessy we took last year with Native River. Native River himself won't run until Christmas as the plan with him is to target the Gold Cup and Grand National.

"Fox Norton will go straight to the Tingle Creek, while the plan with Pingshou is to have a crack at a couple of the Champion Hurdle trials before Christmas and see if he's good enough to go down that route."