In contrast to the expected record turnout for the Champion Hurdle on the opening day, only 11 stood their ground for the Sun Alliance Novice Chase and there will be a maximum field of nine for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
The 14 defectors from the Sun Alliance include Cab On Target and the Martin Pipe-trained pair, Gay Ruffian and Hawthorn Blaze. Only twice in the last 30 years has a single-figure field contested the race - nine facing the starter in both 1973 and 1990.
Coral have opened a book on the race and make the Nigel Twiston Davies-trained Young Hustler 7-4 favourite. Young Hustler won five successive races before finding The Illywhacker too strong last time at Worcester.
David Nicholson's Barton Bank, undefeated in four completed starts over fences, is 5-2 second best. Coral then bet: 7-1 Whispering Steel, 8-1 Capability Brown, 10-1 Ashfold Copse, 12-1 Dakyns Boy, 14-1 Superior Finish, 33-1 others.
Katabatic and Waterloo Boy, second and third respectively to Remittance Man last season, dominate the Champion Chase. Coral bet 11-10 Katabatic, 6-4 Waterloo Boy and 8-1 bar those two.
Today's meetings are filled with horses who did not quite make it to the Cheltenham ball. In the cases of Winter Squall and Oatis Regrets in the Beaufort Hurdle at Chepstow, they are missing the hurly burly of the Festival through the choice of their trainers. Oatis Regrets, unbeaten in four runs this season, was not even entered in order to avoid temptation. Nevertheless, the race may not provide the easy pickings their trainers had hoped for and BRANDON PRINCE (nap 2.00), may prove too strong.Reuse content