Oliver Sherwood is optimistic about the chances of Sevarano in the Bateaux London Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot.
With ante-post principals The Big Breakaway and If The Cap Fits notable defectors at Thursday’s declaration stage, Sherwood believes his representative has a “favourite’s chance” of landing Saturday’s Grade Two contest.
“I’m guessing one or two maybe didn’t want to run and leave their Cheltenham behind, whereas our horse isn’t even entered at Cheltenham and purposely wasn’t going to go there,” said the Lambourn-based trainer.
A talented hurdler last season, Sevarano looks likely to scale even greater heights over fences, having won two of his first three starts this season.
He could finish only fourth on his latest appearance at Newbury in December, but Sherwood has a valid excuse.
He added: “It was unfortunate what happened at Newbury. He slipped into the first fence, and it unnerved him, but he schooled super on Thursday morning and is in a really good place.
“This is the time to step up in trip – I’ve been dying to do it – and he handled this sort of ground over hurdles last year. He’s a big, strong boy now as an eight-year-old – and I’m sure he’ll handle it.
“I’m very happy with him, and he doesn’t get a penalty for his two wins this season because they were handicaps.
“I think he’s going there with a favourite’s chance.”
A six-strong field is headed by the Fergal O’Brien-trained Hurricane Harvey, who must shoulder a 5lb penalty for winning the Grade Two December Novices’ Chase at Doncaster last time out.
“He’s having to carry a penalty, which isn’t ideal, but there aren’t many options for him,” said O’Brien.
“There was a novice handicap at Doncaster next week, but again he’d be giving weight away.
“It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. It was great to win a Grade Two with him, but it makes the rest of the season tougher. Having said that, you’d take a Grade Two every time.
“It’s a rich man’s problem, as they say.”
David Pipe’s Remastered faces a step up in class after winning his first two starts over fences at Carlisle and Wetherby.
Pipe said: “He’s got a bit to find on official ratings, but he likes soft ground, three miles around Ascot will be ideal – and he jumps well.
“It was a decent enough race that he won first time over fences at Carlisle, and then it was just a two-horse race he won at Wetherby, but he deserves to take his chance and has conditions to suit.”
Full Back is in a similar boat after winning at Plumpton and Exeter for Gary Moore, who said: “Hopefully he goes very well. He wouldn’t want too much more rain, he just doesn’t like it too heavy. I know he won in heavier ground, but he’s got away with it a bit.
“He’s in a good place, and this has always been the target, so hopefully he can give a good account of himself.”
Demachine (Kerry Lee) and Kalooki (Philip Hobbs) complete the line-up.