Mitie Noel Novices' Chase (Grade 2) | 2m5f | 4yo+ | RUK
Colin Tizzard has revealed Robbie Power questioned Finian's Oscar's bravery as the trainer prepares to get his star novice chaser's season back on track at Ascot on Friday.
Finian's Oscar will line up in the Grade 2 Mitie Noel Novices' Chase just 13 days after being soundly beaten over 1m7½f in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown, with Bryan Cooper back in the saddle.
With only two rivals at Ascot, the Paul Nicholls-trained Dolos and Gary Moore's Benatar, Tizzard believes the contest represents the perfect opportunity to return to winning ways, but the five-year-old's attitude will be under scrutiny following Power's comments.
"We learned that he's not a two-miler at Sandown," said Tizzard. "It was all happening too fast for him and, in the words of Robbie Power, he's not brave enough. He didn't do a tap that day, so we're up to two miles five.
"He came out of the race and hadn't done anything, he'd do more work at home, so we'll hopefully get back on track and a three-horse race should be ideal.
"He's still a lovely horse but we just need to put that race behind us and move on."
Tizzard may be grateful for the lack of opposition but that is not to say Finian's Oscar has been handed a penalty kick and Gary Moore believes Benatar could have what it takes to spring something of a surprise.
A winner of two starts over fences this term, Benatar was beaten eight and a quarter lengths by Finian's Oscar in the Grade 1 Mersey Novices' Hurdle at Aintree and will be in receipt of 5lb from that rival at Ascot this time.
Benatar also holds an entry in the 32Red Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day but connections opted to head to Friday's race instead.
"We know he runs Ascot well and we think he'll get three miles in time," Moore said. "It's not going to be easy but if you're not in them, you can't win them."
Dolos too brings extra spice to what will be an informative race, having won a beginners' chase with ease over 2m3f at this venue most recently.
He is once again in receipt of his four-year-old allowance and Paul Nicholls said: "It's a step up in class and form and on his hurdle form, he's plenty to do but he was always going to be a chaser and he did it well the last day. Hopefully he's in good shape again."