188bet.co.uk Bud Booth Mares' Chase l Listed l 3m l RUK
Desert Queen bids for back-to-back wins in the first of the series of Listed contests for mares which were successfully implemented by the BHA last winter.
Harry Fry's consistent sort won two such events for which she picks up a 4lb penalty this time around against five rivals including old rival and joint-topweight Antartica De Thaix.
After defying a 10lb penalty on her penultimate start at Leicester, Desert Queen came unstuck at Huntingdon in March when trying to give the same extra burden to Antartica De Thaix, eventually going down by nine lengths.
On the latter, trainer Paul Nicholls said: "Antartica De Thaix really stepped up once she went over fences last season and won three in a row, including a Listed event, before being a bit over the top at Cheltenham in April. She may be suited by a less stiff track such as this and we aim to run her in this valuable series of races for mares this winter."
One of the more progressive candidates is Dan Skelton's Debdebdeb who is seeking a hat-trick having scored readily in novice chases at Hexham and Uttoxeter, winning by no less than 19 lengths at the latter in September.
The trainer commented: "Debdebdeb has won two novice chases in good style and her win at Uttoxeter was particularly strong form. The only drawback is that she prefers going left-handed but we are giving it a go. She looks up to this level but I'd be more confident if it was the other way around."
Also on a three-timer is Alan King's hopeful Mia’s Storm who made an impressive chasing debut at Chepstow last month.
King said: "Mia's Storm is stepping up in class and it looks a cracking race, as it's entitled to be. She won her only start over fences at Chepstow recently, jumping well and quickening in good style."
One with slightly less impressive recent form is the returning Briery Belle, who was pulled up on her final two outings last season.
Trainer Henry Daly said: "She's had a little tickle of her wind since last season and she's ready to return. I'm pleased this isn't at Cheltenham as she doesn't seem to like it there and hopefully she can find her form again."
Three to look out for
Tobefair (1.10 Newbury)
The most prolific winner of last season is back on the Pertemps Hurdle Final trail after flopping on his chase debut at Ffos Las last month. Debra Hamer's stable star rounded off an unbeaten run of seven wins at this track in February and was fancied by many for the final at Cheltenham but beat only two home.
Topofthegame (2.45 Newbury)
Has been off since February but posted some high-class form including when chasing home the useful Beyond Conceit at Ascot. The latter went on to finish second in a Grade 1 contest at Aintree and Topofthegame is sure to be well schooled for his chasing debut.
Middle Kingdom (7.15 Chelmsford)
He could have stepped out of handicaps by now if he had not suffered a setback after scoring on his reappearance at the Craven meeting at Newmarket in April. The son of War Front is bred to excel on the all-weather and it could be a busy winter for John Gosden's runner.