Ladbrokes Novices' Chase (Grade 2) | 2m4f | ITV4/RUK
Nobody minds the lack of quantity when the quality is this good. There may be only five runners in this field but history – and the form book – suggests it will probably contain at least one star.
Coneygree was one of just five in the line up three years ago and Denman beat three rivals in 2006, while their fellow future Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth’s three victims in 2011 included Cue Card.
They are a hard act to follow but few would be surprised were Yanworth to take top rank over fences, as a dual Grade 1-winning hurdler with the physique to take to this job.
He won well on his chasing debut at Exeter and a fall there last time is reckoned no more than a blip by Alan King.
"It's not as though Yanworth jumped clumsily," the trainer said. "He just landed a little steeply and it was a typical novice's fall.
"He schooled last Thursday, jumping nine fences, and it was clear from what he did that morning that the fall hadn't worried him."
Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle winner Willoughby Court looked just as promising a chasing prospect at the start of the season.
He jumped to his left and was less impressive than might have been expected of a 2-5 favourite when successful on his debut over fences at Huntingdon but is reckoned to have learned a lot from that effort.
"We’ve done plenty of schooling and everything has gone very well," said trainer Ben Pauling.
"Willoughby Court is in good form and I couldn’t be happier with him. He just gave himself a scare at the ditch at Huntingdon but he got it back in gear to win and I wouldn’t be overly worried about that.
"He’s had plenty of experience and has every right to line up here against decent horses. If we get beaten it’s not the end of the world because it’s a proper race. Having seen him going slightly left at Huntingdon it was the obvious thing to go left-handed now."
Denman's trainer Paul Nicholls has won this with Wonderful Charm and Clan Des Obeaux in the last four years and is hopeful for the upped-in-grade Adrien Du Pont.
"He won his only start over fences at Fontwell and this is a step up in class, but he jumped well and we always thought he'd be a nice chaser," he said.