Galia Des Liteaux looks to have plenty going for her when she attempts to get back on track in the eventmasters.co.uk Hampton Novices’ Chase at Warwick.
The Dan Skelton-trained seven-year-old made a blistering start to her chasing career when sauntering to a nine-length success in a mares’ Listed contest at Bangor which teed up a tilt at the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton.
The daughter of Saddler Maker failed to fire in the Boxing Day Grade One, with early mistakes ultimately putting Galia Des Liteaux on the back foot before Harry Skelton pulled her up before four out.
However, Skelton believes shadows created by the bright winter sun could have played a part in her jumping errors during that contest and reports he has no concerns about her jumping having been well schooled since.
He said: “I think this trip and track is perfect for her and all the rain is a positive for her as well – I don’t have any negatives.
“She didn’t get very far in the Feltham (Kauto Star), but that was really because she made a few mistakes early on and Harry thinks she might have pitched off at a few shadows which I think a couple of other horses had a problem with on the day as well.
“She’s done lots of jumping since and we’re not worried about that at all.”
Paul Nicholls has won this the past two years with smart staying chasers and Complete Unknown, who landed the Grade Three EBF Final at Sandown in the spring and made a taking debut over the larger obstacles at Ffos Las, could complete a hat-trick for the Ditcheat handler.
The champion trainer told Betfair: “He won very nicely on his chasing debut at Ffos Las. He’s a point-to-point winner and he won the EBF final at Sandown last year on soft ground so the track and the ground won’t be a problem.
“I would like to think if he jumps well he will have a nice chance.”
Gordon Elliott brings over The Goffer as he looks to emulate Willie Mullins’ victory for Ireland with Black Hercules in this race in 2016.
The six-year-old beat a subsequent Grade One runner-up when opening his fencing account at Thurles in November and was not disgraced in a competitive heat at Fairyhouse last time out.
A small but classy quartet is rounded off by Stuart Edmunds’ Gentleman At Arms, who was second in the Grade One Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree last spring and will appreciate the return to three miles for just his second appearance over the larger obstacles.
“He goes there with every chance and if he jumps like he did at Leicester we think he should run well,” said Harriet Edmunds, assistant trainer to her father.
“We think the trip was too short for him at Leicester so now he’s back up to three miles he should run well. He has won on heavy before, but it might depend on how testing things get as he isn’t overly big.
“He ran well at Warwick in the Grade Two Leamington as a novice hurdler last season, so it would be nice for him to do the same.”