Henderson charge to Be the one
The toteexacta Novices' Chase is the centrepiece at Towcester and one exciting runner makes his debut over the larger obstacles.
RATHER BE was a progressive hurdler last campaign and should improve for going over fences. The son of Oscar tops BTO+ ratings heading into the extended 2m contest and he should be right in the mix. Rather Be was a five-length ninth to Ballyandy in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in 2015 before making an impact over timber. Nicky Henderson's charge was well backed for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at the Festival last term but unseated rider Charlie Deutsch at the second flight after being badly hampered in running. Nevertheless, Rather Be got a deserved success under his belt three weeks later in the Alder Hey Children's Charity Handicap Hurdle at Aintree. Jeremiah McGrath rode his mount prominently and the six-year-old displayed an admirable attitude to battle to a half-a-length success. Rather Be finished last of eight on his final start in the bet365 Select Hurdle at Sandown, but that run can be forgiven after a long season against plenty of classy hurdlers. The gelding should be well refreshed and ready to kickstart his chase career. Nico De Boinville takes the reins on Rather Be for the first time and the jockey shows a 23% better than expected strike rate riding over the minimum distance.
WAR SOUND won't go down without a fight, however, and is second-best rated by BTO+. Phillip Hobbs has already had two chase starts - and on both occasions he has been defeated by talented Henderson prospects. The Kayf Tara gelding, who earned an official rating of 148 over hurdles, made his debut over fences at Uttoxeter in November and finished a six-and-a-half length third to River Wylde. Then, last time out, War Sound was forced to play bridesmaid to the exciting Brain Power at Kempton. War Sound meets another exciting Seven Barrows novice chaser but he has experience on his side, which will stand him in good stead. The ground is in the eight-year-old's favour, with War Sound boasting an 80% better than expected win rate on the good to soft going.
KAYF BLANCO has been unable to make a real impact over fences. Rated as highly as 140 over smaller obstacles, the eight-year-old hasn't threatened in his two chase starts. He fell on his debut over larger obstacles at Huntingdon in May before finishing a 30-length second at Newton Abbot last time.
RUBY RAMBLER is the final runner in the contest. Lucy Wadham's Notnowcato mare has her first run for over 18 months. The seven-year-old earned a rating of 135 over hurdles and could develop into a decent chaser, but Ruby Rambler's lengthy absence is a major concern.