Chantry House makes his debut over the larger obstacles at Ascot on Friday in the opening Ascot Racecourse Supports Safer Gambling Week Novices’ Chase.
Trained by Nicky Henderson for JP McManus, he was one of the leading novice hurdlers at Seven Barrows last season, winning his first two before finishing third in the Supreme at Cheltenham in March.
Henderson mooted on more than one occasion that the six-year-old would benefit from a step up in trip and he reappears over almost two miles and three furlongs.
He faces a tricky task, though, because while only up against two rivals Richard Rowe’s Up The Straight is highly regarded and Paul Nicholls’ Pic D’Orhy won the ultra-competitive Betfair Hurdle.
“He’s been pleasing them at home and Nicky’s looking forward to getting him started,” said Frank Berry, McManus’ racing manager.
“Nicky has been tempted to try him over a bit further and this looks a good starting point.
“Ascot is always a good track to start a nice novice chaser, it’s a very fair test, and we’re looking forward to it.
“There’s only three runners, but it’s far from simple. It’s that time of the season, though – everybody wants to get their novice chasers out.”
Henderson and Nicholls are also represented in the following Lexicon Recruitment ‘National Hunt’ Maiden Hurdle, with Time Flies By and Danny Kirwan respectively, but Kim Bailey’s The Edgar Wallace is likely to have a say.
The two title rivals also look to hold strong hands in the Play The Coral ‘Racing Super Series’ ‘Introductory’ Hurdle.
Henderson runs Gipsy De Choisel, a winner at Angers in May, while Nicholls’ Nimix De Juilley, owned by McManus, has his first run since winning at Strasbourg almost 800 days ago.