Tag Archive for: The Dipper Novices’ Chase

The Glancing Queen aiming to reign for King in Dipper

The Glancing Queen will bid to give trainer Alan King his third Paddy Power Novices’ Chase – better known as the Dipper Novices’ Chase – in five years at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

No fewer than nine runners are scheduled to line up for the first graded race of 2022 in what appears to be the deepest renewal of the extended two-and-a-half-mile heat for many years.

Last year’s race was run at Wincanton after waterlogging forced the abandonment of Cheltenham’s traditional curtain-raiser to the year, and King supplemented his 2018 win with Yanworth as Messire Des Obeaux beat two rivals.

The Glancing Queen, the only mare in the field, has won both her starts over fences after landing two mares’ Listed novice chases at Bangor and Warwick.

King also had the option of running the seven-year-old at Plumpton on Sunday, but admitted he was looking for more course experience ahead of the Festival in March.

“I thought Plumpton looked fairly hot as well,” laughed King. “We had a chat with the team and owners and decided we’d go to Cheltenham. It looks a cracking renewal.

“She is in good order, we gave her a little school on Thursday morning and we are hoping she will run very well.

“Thinking ahead, I just thought it would be good to give her a bit of match practice around Cheltenham before March. That was in the back of my mind.

“She has been to a few Cheltenhams and ran very well in the mares’ bumper last year, but I felt from a chasing point of view it would do her good to go around there and we’ll see what happens.”

Among her rivals is the Venetia Williams-trained L’Homme Presse, who ran out a 13-length winner of a graduation chase at Ascot a fortnight ago.

The six-year-old has been hiked up another 12lb from his last run and is 20lb higher than when winning at Exeter on December 3.

Millers Bank, who unseated Harry Bannister in a Grade Two novices’ chase at Newbury last time, is out to restore his lofty reputation.

He is officially rated 1lb superior to L’Homme Presse on a mark of 149 and trainer Alex Hales hopes last season’s Aintree Hurdle third will make it two wins from three over fences, despite predominately running on flat tracks.

Hales said: “I don’t see why the track wouldn’t suit him. He has done most of his running on flat tracks, but that is more by chance. It has been just the way the races have fallen.

“It is the ideal option to see if an undulating track would suit him and therefore whether we will be able to come back there for the Festival, or we’d skip and go to Aintree. Cheltenham is not the be all and end all.

“I thought Venetia’s horse was very impressive at Ascot but also thought our horse would have learned plenty from Newbury, so if he has, he is in a very good place. He is in great form and we are looking forward to it.”

Nigel Twiston-Davies saddles Fantastikas
Nigel Twiston-Davies saddles Fantastikas (Mike Egerton/PA)

Fantastikas, who chased home Threeunderthrufive at Doncaster, bids to give Nigel Twiston-Davies his first Dipper winner. His son, Sam Twiston-Davies, renews the partnership after Jordan Nailor deputised on his previous run.

“It is a tough race and a difficult one,” said the trainer. “I thought the race would cut up and it hasn’t done. We have a good chance for a place and he is good form.”

Tom George hopes that Come On Teddy, who won on his chasing bow at Uttoxeter, can learn plenty from this step up in class.

“He’s fine, we are happy with him and it is a big stepping stone for him. He won nicely at Uttoxeter and will learn a bit from that, so we are ready for the next step,” he said.

“He was always going to improve over fences and he will probably improve when he goes a bit further as well. Let’s see how we go.”

Quality abounds with Nicky Henderson represented by Gallyhill, while Colin Tizzard saddles Oscar Elite. The field is rounded out by the Jane Williams-trained Gladiateur Allen and Sophie Leech’s Zurekin.