Newton Abbot preview: Handsome Horace looks good on chasing debut

Handsome Horace is bred to come into his own over fences and looks weighted to make a winning debut over the larger obstacles in the 3m 2f novices’ handicap chase at Newton Abbott this evening (18.00).

The gelding is out of a dam who is a half-sister to Grand National winner Comply Or Die, so whatever he achieved over hurdles was always going to be a bonus.

It’s therefore encouraging that Handsome Horace comes into the contest on the back of a career-best effort over the smaller obstacles when chasing home Dubh Eile in a 2m 6f handicap hurdle at this venue off a mark of 95.

The Philip Hobbs-trained five-year-old stuck to the task well to get within five lengths at the line, and the winner has subsequently gone on to follow-up in facile fashion Aintree off a revised mark of 104.

It makes Handsome Horace look well-treated off an unchanged mark of 95, especially as he is likely to be a totally different proposition over fences based on breeding.

The son of Presenting should also relish the step up in trip, and with in-form Richard Johnson in the saddle can take this before going on to better things.

In the 2m 3f handicap hurdle (19.30), Sylvan Legend is a fascinating contender on his first start for trainer Neill Mulholland following a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

The gelding landed a gamble on handicap debut at Taunton back in November 2013 when in the care of Caroline Keevil, but failed to cut any ice in three subsequent outings after being raised 7lb to a mark of 81.

Sylvan Legend now returns to action following 403 days on the sidelines, and is able to race off just 3lb higher than when last successful.

That gives the daughter of Midnight Legend a big shout at the weights if ready to go at the first time of asking, and her new handler has done extremely well with similar types over the years.

Mulholland is a dab hand at getting his horses primed after a lay-off, and it’s interesting that he has decided to put cheekpieces on Sylvan Legend for the first time.

If they have the desired effect, Sylvan Legend could have got in lightly in what is a weak looking class 5 contest.

17.30: Peggy Do
18.00: Handsome Horace (NAP)
18.30: St Dominick
19.00: Sergeant Dick
19.30: Sylvan Legend (NB)
20.00: Bleu Et Noir
20.30: Current Event