Push The Tempo bids to keep good run going in Grade 2 Persian War
When it comes to unearthing future stars, Chepstow’s Grade 2 Fox Family Persian War Novices' Hurdle (3.25) has a fine record, with the likes of Reve De Sivola, Silviniaco Conti, Fingal Bay and Blaklion among recent winners.
Last year Poetic Rhythm graduated from success here to land the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle, and there is no shortage of potential among eight runners on Sunday trying to add their name to the roll of honour.
Winning form is not hard to find and, while four of the field chase a hat-trick, Push The Tempo is looking to complete a four-timer under rules for local trainer Robert Stephens.
The five-year-old has come a long way in a short space of time, winning a point-to-point in February, before success in a bumper and two victories over hurdles for Stephens.
"He seems to improve with each run and is getting more confidence," said the trainer. "You could argue they’ve not been the strongest of races but he’s been impressive each time.
"He’s got to improve a good bit again but it’s worth a go and it looks a nice race for him as long as the ground doesn’t go too soft."
The highest-rated in the field is Double Treasure, who despite two wins in novice company over hurdles this summer, has four wins from nine over fences to his name and is not lacking for experience.
Trainer Jamie Snowden said: "He was a prolific chaser last autumn but didn’t really handle the heavy ground through the winter. We brought him back over hurdles and he's won two races very nicely.
"This has been the plan for a while but he doesn’t want winter soft ground. He’s hardy and tough and officially the highest-rated horse."
Minella Warrior, another chasing a third-straight win, outclassed his rivals at Warwick last time with a nine-length success under David Bass, who rides again.
"I’ve been happy with his two runs this season," said trainer Kim Bailey. "It’s a big step up from what he’s done and on paper he has to find 10lb, but I’m hoping he’s capable of it.
"A bit of rain will certainly help and we’ve had this race lined up since May."
Equus Millar and Secret Investor, making his first start since a wind operation, are the others on the hat-trick trail.
Alco back after barren spell
Some familiar names are in action in the £40,000 2m3½ handicap chase (5.10), which witnesses the return from injury of Baron Alco, who was last seen in action 577 days ago when runner-up at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.
"Whether he’s as good as he was, I couldn’t tell you," said trainer Gary Moore. "We’ve been waiting for some easier ground and he's been ready to run for a while. He damaged his suspensory and could have returned in April but we’ve given him extra time. Any rain will help."
Topweight is the popular warrior Charbel, who put a bad fall behind him in the Champion Chase in March to finish third at Perth last month, and is in a good frame of mind according to trainer Kim Bailey.
"I was happy with his first run back where the track didn’t suit him," said the trainer. "He had a nasty fall at Cheltenham and last time was a confidence booster. Chepstow will suit him much better."
Jack could be a bit of all right
The bumper (5.40) also has a habit of producing quality, with Snowden’s Alrightjack among the more intriguing runners, with the trainer describing him as a "lovely prospect" for this season and beyond.
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