Charbel faces Altior in Sandown challenge

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KIM Bailey is relishing the prospect of two mile novice chaser Charbel putting his reputation on the line in today’s Grade One Racing Post Henry VIII Novices Chase at Sandown.

Though Nicky Henderson’s Altior, winner of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, will be a formidable rival, Bailey – and jockey David Bass – hold their horse in the highest regard.

Victorious in the Kalahari King Beginners’ Chase at Uttoxeter which celebrated Ferdy Murphy’s top-rank chaser who was placed at four Cheltenham Festivals, Bailey says the form is rock solid because the vanquished at the Midlands track did include horses of the calibre of Top Notch and Le Prezien who have both won on their subsequent starts.

“He deserves to go and take on Altior as it will pinpoint where we go later in the season,” said Bailey. “Sandown is never easy, but David Bass was very good on him at Uttoxeter and met every fence right. He’ll be very lucky to do that at Sandown over those Railway Fences, though. It will be a proper race.”

A measure of the task facing Charbel is how highly veteran jockey Noel Fehily regards Altior. “Bar Master Minded, I think he’s as good a horse as I’ve ever sat on,” he said.

Guiseley trainer Samantha England and her jockey husband Jonathan teamed up for their first win since their August wedding when Cabragh prevailed in Sedgefield’s three and a quarter mile handicap chase. The meeting saw a double for High Eldwick’s Sue Smith with Perseid and Maxed Out King.

Former Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Dodging Bullets, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, heads the field for tomorrow’s prestigious Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.