by John Burke

December 1, 2020

Good morning all,

A further look at the weekend’s action and it’s the novice chasers that take centre stage today. We saw three high class novice chasers in action at Newbury and Fairyhouse over the weekend in Monkfish, Next Destination and of course Envoi Allen.

On Friday we witnessed the best race of the winter campaign so far at Newbury with the latest running of the Grade 2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle. You can read my thoughts inside the main piece. Plus, I have a selection from Wolverhampton and three for the tracker.

Thyme Hill a high-class stayer

The Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle looked as good a renewal of the race as we have seen in recent years. The field included the last two winners of the Stayers Hurdle Lisnagar Oscar and Paisley Park and, upcoming second season staying hurdlers in Mcfabulous and Thyme Hill.

It was Thyme Hill who came out on top, he got the better of Paisley Park to win by 1 ½ lengths.  Thyme Hill had looked a little unlucky when 4th in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham. A good record when fresh was enhanced as the 6-year-old put in a high-class performance to win. He’s now ante-post favourite for the Stayer Hurdle in March.

Runner up Paisley Park was so disappointing when trying to retain his Staying Hurdle crown at Cheltenham. Considering he was conceding 3lb to the winner, this was a step back in the right direction. After the race trainer Emma Lavelle suggested that he wasn’t suited by the race turning into a bit of a sprint coming to the final two hurdles and she probably has a point. Paisley Park would have probably been better suited by a more even gallop. He also looked like he needed the race more than Thyme Hill.

Impressive Chepstow Grade 2 winner McFabulous was sent off the 15/8 favourite. He had the benefit of race fitness but found the step up to Grade 1 company a step too far on this occasion. It will be interesting to see if he stays over hurdles or goes over fences for his next start.

Lisnagar Oscar set for a wind-op

Lisnagar Oscar took up the running three out. He was headed two out and soon faded into disappointing 7th. Trainer Rebecca Curtis said after the race that last years shock Stayers Hurdle winner would have a wind-op. If the procedure has the desired effect the 50/1 available with Paddy Power would look tempting.

Novice chasers take centre stage

We saw three high class novice chasers in action at the weekend.

Monkish winner of the Albert Bartlett on his final start last season had that form franked when Thyme Hill won on Friday.  The 6-year-old made a winning debut in the 2m 5f beginners chase at Fairyhouse on Saturday. He impressed with his jumping which got better as the race developed. He should improve for 3m and already looks the one to beat in next years RSA Novices Chase, or which he’s a best priced 4/1 with Bet365.

Next Destination had run well on debut for Paul Nicholls and first run for 920-day layoff over hurdles at Wetherby last time.  Chucked into the deep end for his chasing debut in Saturday’s 2m 7 ½ f Grade 2 novices’ chase. It was a good start to his career over fences. He jumped nicely and ran out a cosy winner at the finish.  A big chasing type he should make up into a Grade 1 horse over fences.

Finally, Envoi Allen arguably the best novice chaser in training who scared off all but three rivals in Sunday’s Grade 1 Drinmore Novices Chase. Sent to the front from the off, his jumping was impeccable just as it had been on debut at Down Royal. Coming to two out it looked like Assemble might give the long odds on favourite a race. However, when Jack Kennedy pressed the button Envoi Allen quickened clear to win by an easy 8 ½ lengths.  It’s hard to see who can beat him in the Marsh Novices Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. As a tipster, it’s my job to try to find one to take him on but it’s going to be hard.

Three for the tracker

Three for the tracker from the weekend.

Defi Sacre – Richard Hobson

An improving handicap chaser at 2m last season, winning three on the trot last December. Ran with promise when 2nd of 8 at Aintree on his seasonal return. Having his first start over 2m 4f over fences he was in the process of running a big race when unseating his rider three from home in the handicap chase won by Clondaw Castle on Friday.  Stamina for the distance still to be proven but he shapes like he will stay. He can win more races over the coming weeks, if none the worse for this mishap.

One For The Team – Nick Williams

One For The Team a 140 rated hurdler, had been sent off 7/4 favourite for his chase debut but unseated his jockey at the last at Chepstow. Clearly held in high regard by connections as he was pitched into the Grade 2 won by Next Destination on Saturday. He gave him a race and was still in with a chance at the last. It was a good effort to finish runner-up to that good horse.  He looks the sort to do better with racing and will be interesting when going handicapping.

Takingrisks – Nicky Richards

Takingrisks had won the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle 12 months earlier, off 4lb lower. The going was heavy that day and he needed every yard of the distance to get up home on the line.  Not surprising really given he had won the 2019 Scottish Grand National. On good ground it looked an impossible task to achieve back to back wins in the race. Outpaced and under pressure coming into the straight, he looked in trouble but his stamina kicked in two out and he stayed on all the way to the line to finish 4th just 6 ½ lengths behind winner Yorkhill.  The 11-year-old needs a real stamina test but as he showed here there’s a handicap chase in him when he gets it.

Tuesday racing

The Tuesday action isn’t great but here goes.


6:30 – Golden Force was in great form early in the summer winning a C&D handicap before going on to win at York.  Not in in the same form since but was a running on 6th of 10 at Chelmsford (7f) 26-days ago. Return to C&D is in the 4-year-old’s favour and given he’s 1-1 on the tapeta he’s open to more improvement on the surface.

Tuesday selection:


6:30 – Golden Force – 4/1 – Gen.

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Good luck with your Tuesday bets.


John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here –

Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TGH Trading Ltd or it's employees.

About the author 

John Burke

John Burke is a long term tipster at the Victor Value service, a contributor to On Course Profits and of course a regular contributor here at the Daily Punt. If you want all of John's selections every weekend and his horses to follow – Click Here

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