Persian War Novices' Hurdle Tips: Scipion the value at Chepstow

The Persian War is one of the first big races of the Jumps season
The Persian War is one of the first big races of the Jumps season

It's time to rejoice for National Hunt fans; the jumps is back! There is often a hot debate on when the hedge hopping season really gets going but to most fans it is this weekend's Chepstow card. As is becoming more and more commonplace this time of year, the ground is still very quick for some of the best jumps horses around and unfortunately some field sizes across the weekend reflect this. Friday's Persian War Novices' Hurdle, however, still looks a thrilling renewal and Billy Grimshaw thinks he's found one who should relish the conditions...

The Skelton team often make hay while the sun still shines (well, occasionally) in the early weeks and months of each jumps season. This campaign could be no exception as Dan will give brother Harry the leg up on JP McManus owned favourite Quid Pro Quo. After over a year off the track, he made his return with a swaggering success at Warwick in May of this year on good ground, in the end making a mockery of his absence and coming home fourteen lengths in front at 13/8. Next time out he was prohibitively priced at 1/5 at Newton Abbot and won as a horse that price should with minimal fuss. That was all the way back on June 1st of this year and Skelton clearly thinks this one has the class to be a winter horse so has saved him for this assignment. He is up in grade but looks more than ready for it and has a favourite's chance, although prices of sub 2/1 have put me off for punting purposes.

Presentandcounting is next in the market for Champion Jockey Brian Hughes and Donald McCain, and this is certainly the most experienced horse in the line-up. The eight year old has been both busy and successful over the summer, winning four of his eight starts since April, and will no doubt come here in flying form after succeeding in his last three outings. He rates one of the more solid place chances but it would be a bit disappointing if a less exposed runner couldn't improve past him. One who looks likely to have the potential to do this is Deeper Blue for Harry Fry, who was last seen going back to back at Fontwell and Exeter in March. He has some solid form at the track when a six length second to the very smart Stage Star in a maiden around this time last year, so the ground and trip shouldn't be a concern.

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Hector Javilex is the outsider of the field and looks to have it all to do if he is to feature here on all known form, while Fergal O'Brien's Accidental Rebel disappointed last time out in a handicap and probably warrants his double figure price. Gentle Connections is another Skelton runner and she comes here searching for a five timer, but here wins have come in much less classy affairs and it would take a marked step up for her to be in the shake up come the final flight. Paul Nicholls has a good record at this track and indeed in this race and never sends one out for a holiday, so it is interesting to see Outlaw Peter as his sole representative here. He won a modest Kempton race as a 3/10 favourite should earlier this summer but has no piece of form or rating that entitles him to be an 8/1 poke for this. The trainer's reputation undoubtedly has spoken in the market and although it would be no surprise were he to show bundles of improvement, Outlaw Peter cannot be recommended as a bet against rivals as classy as these.

The horse I am very sweet on for this race has annoyingly seen his price contract all through the week, from as big as 14/1 down to a current best price of 8/1. These odds still make SCIPION a knocking each-way play in my eyes, though. Tom Lacey's charge has kept his novice status for this season and it is interesting to see connections are opting to step him back in trip this campaign, a move I think will work out well for the son of Shantou. His run at Warwick in January, when being carried to the left at a key point in the race before rallying strongly to finish third in the Leamington Spa, looks a good piece of form to me and in a race over shorter he can excel with a stronger pace to aim at. Another tick in his box is his March win at the course, admittedly over a longer trip and at long odds-on, but that was on ground that will be similar to the conditions he is set to face on Friday. He looks to be suited to every facet of this race and has a great chance of victory with a superb chance of at least hitting the frame so is a confident each-way selection.

Persian War Novices' Hurdle
Scipion silk

Scipion (EW)

Today's Racing Tips
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