Mala Beach and Blue Fashion star in informative graduation event at Ascot
Gordon Elliott is represented by Mala Beach in what could be an informative GL Events Owen Brown Graduation Chase at Ascot on Saturday.
Still only seven, he holds an entry in the big Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas which is always fiercely competitive and having had only four runs over fences Elliott feels it may come just a bit too soon in his education.
A smart hurdler, winning the Grade Two Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran, he chased home The Tullow Tank on his chasing debut last season.
He went one better at Punchestown next time out and was not totally disgraced behind Don Poli at the Punchestown Festival.
This season he fell in a race won by Sir Des Champs at Thurles.
" He's only had four runs over fences and maybe he's a bit inexperienced for something like the Paddy Power," said the Cullentra handler.
"He took a fall at Thurles and if he'd got around there I'd have been more comfortable about going for a competitive handicap.
"His owner (Chris Jones) has been very patient."
While just 8lb covers the six-runner field on official ratings the highest is Nicky Henderson's fragile but talented Blue Fashion.
Second to More Of That giving the subsequent World Hurdle winner 6lb on his British debut at Haydock in November 2013, he has only made it to the track three times since and in one of those he was second to Faugheen.
Henderson has always viewed him as a chaser and in getting weight from everything else it will be fascinating to see how he fares on his chasing bow.
"It is his first run over fences but it's something we've been waiting to do for a long time," said the Seven Barrows maestro.
"Because he has got this ridiculously high rating of 147 over hurdles as it stands, the conditions of the race mean he gets in quite well.
"He began last year being beaten by Faugheen then if you go back a year he was he was giving weight away to More Of That.
"David (Bass) has been schooling him all the way along and he knows him very well. The aim will be for him to get a clear round and let him enjoy himself."
Philip Hobbs' Royal Regatta and Colin Tizzard's Kings Lad bring solid handicap form to the table, while Harry Fry's Voix D'Eau is improving quickly.