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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Tizzard hoping for an Oscar-winning performance from Finian's

Finian's Oscar: first try over fences at Chepstow
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3.05 Chepstow
totequadpot Novices' Chase (Listed) | 2m3½f | 4yo+ | ATR

It was too firm for Thistlecrack to make his chasing debut at Chepstow last year, but conditions are set to be fine for exciting chase recruit Finian’s Oscar as he starts life over fences.

Colin Tizzard used the Listed totequadpot Novices’ Chase for Cue Card to begin over fences six years ago and will be hoping his stablemate can also make a winning start.

Victory in the Grade 1 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle and a close second at the Punchestown Festival provides Finian’s Oscar with the same kind of profile as Cue Card in preparation for a career over fences.

His opening task sees him face three rivals over an extended 2m3f, where he will be ridden for the first time by Bryan Cooper, the new retained rider in Britain for owner Alan Potts.

Finian's Oscar leading over the last in the Mersey Novices' Hurdles under Robbie Power

Tizzard said: “He’s jumped on the grass a couple of times and done plenty of work – it’s gone really well. He’s looking in wonderful form.

“It’s a nice place to start. It’s the right track and distance. It was too firm for Thistlecrack last year but we started Native River in the race, when he was third, and Cue Card. It’s the race we’ve been thinking about for him all summer. Joe [Tizzard] walked the track in the week and he was happy with it.

“It’s not a gimme, there are some decent horses in the race, but we all saw him last year, didn’t we?”

Nicholls showing no fear

The biggest threat promises to come from the Paul Nicholls-trained Alcala, who has a big edge on experience having had ten chase starts, winning the last five by a combined 70 lengths.

Alcala: winner of his last five starts

Nicholls said: “He keeps on winning, which is good, although he has a 3lb penalty and it’s a tough-looking race. Finian’s Oscar is obviously good but he has to jump fences. I wouldn’t be running mine if I thought the favourite was impossible to beat. It’s a novice chase and anything can happen.”

The Dan Skelton-trained Aintree My Dream and Tintern Theatre, from the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard, are both likeable types for fences but have something to find on hurdle ratings.

Twiston-Davies said: “He’s got it all to do against Finian’s Oscar and the Paul Nicholls horse, but he jumps well, there’s good place money and if he can finish third we'll be happy.”

Skelton said: “It’s going to be a tough race but I think he’s one of our better novice chasers and as the ground softens this season, his chances will increase.”

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He’s jumped on the grass a couple of times and done plenty of work
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