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McFabulous set to take advantage of amended rules in Persian War

McFabulous: odds-on favourite to win the Persian War Novices' Hurdle
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3.15 Chepstow
Unibet Persian War Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) | 2m3f 100yds, 4yo+ | ITV3/SSR

The Persian War is often regarded as the first major novice hurdle of the season, but in practice these days it is just as often the last major novice hurdle of the season before.

Ordinarily, novices who win their first race over hurdles after March 1 keep their novice status until October 31 and would be eligible for this race. It is a loophole most famously exploited by Silviniaco Conti, who won this race in 2010 and put up one of the novice performances of the season just a week before his novice status lapsed.

McFabulous is out to pull a similar trick for Paul Nicholls, who has won three more Persian Wars since. There is a subtle difference in his case, as the early end to the 2019/20 jumps season has brought about a temporary change in the rules. Any novice who won their first race after February 1 will remain eligible for novice races to the end of November. McFabulous, who shed his maiden tag on February 4, sneaks in.

Few would have expected him to take so long to win a race last year. McFabulous was a top bumper horse, he showed far more than most do in that sphere for the ever-patient Nicholls and was duly fancied by many to become one of the season's top novice hurdlers. He staked a minor claim when easily winning the rescheduled EBF Final at Kempton off 132 on March 14, three days before the season was terminated. You certainly cannot fault his timing.

One For The Team: taking advantage of the same rule as rival McFabulous

Second favourite One For The Team is taking advantage of the same tweak to the rules. He is effectively in his third season as a novice, having finally won his first race over hurdles in a 3m handicap on Betfair Hurdle day. The only quibble is that the form is probably not as strong as its context would imply, but admittedly it is hard to take serious issue with a 14-length win.

Both horses would already qualify as above average for the race. Since Silviniaco Conti posted 160, the average winning performance has been 141 on RPRs. Others, notably Getaround and Petrastar, have form within reaching distance of that level, although it is not quite convincing as the winter handicap form the top two boast.
Keith Melrose, betting editor


What they say

Paul Nicholls, trainer of McFabulous
His jumping was ordinary at the start of last season but it improved a great deal with experience as he matured and he’s very slick now. I think a lot of him.

Fergal O’Brien, trainer of Courtandbould
I’m delighted for his owners Craig and Laura Buckingham and am looking forward to running him. Ideally he’d like the ground a bit quicker but he should be able to handle most surfaces. After his last run he had a couple of weeks away at Jason Maguire’s and he has come back fresh and well. He’s been training very well.

Fergal O'Brien: trainer of the progressive Courtandbould

Philip Hobbs, trainer of Everglow
His form in bumpers was good but we're very much throwing him in the deep end on his first start over hurdles. It looks a massively competitive race so we'll see.

Ella Pickard, trainer of Getaround
We’re not worried about any of the opposition. He’s proven on all ground and we definitely think he’s got a chance. 

Jamie Snowden, trainer of Legends Ryde
She’s a lovely mare and was coming on really nicely over hurdles last season. She had a good handicap mark to hopefully go and win the Grade 2 mares final at Newbury in March but obviously Covid-19 put an end to that. She remains a novice until December so we thought we’d try and win a Grade 2 off level weights rather than a handicap which might be trickier. She’s in good order and it’s a big ask but she’s progressing well. 


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His jumping was ordinary at the start of last season but it improved a great deal with experience
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