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A rare international challenge is about to descend on Plumpton, but home hope Knocknanuss can put up a stout and successful defence of his Sussex territory on Sunday. (stock photo)
A rare international challenge is about to descend on Plumpton, but home hope Knocknanuss can put up a stout and successful defence of his Sussex territory on Sunday. (stock photo)

By David Clough

A rare international challenge is about to descend on Plumpton, but home hope Knocknanuss can put up a stout and successful defence of his Sussex territory on Sunday.

The big-money bonus potentially on offer to the winner of the Follow At The Races On Twitter Novices' Chase has attracted a high-profile contender from both France and Ireland.

Between them, by the time they get to post, Guillaume Macaire's prolific five-year-old Master Dino and Gordon Elliott's Cheltenham Festival runner-up Glenloe will have travelled around 1,000 miles for the privilege - from France's Atlantic coast and County Meath respectively.

By contrast, Knocknanuss will have clocked up just under 20 from Gary Moore's yard at Lower Beeding.

It is a moot point whether the nine-year-old's journey time of just half-an-hour gives him an edge on his rivals as they bid to give themselves a shot at the bonus payment should they win here and then do so again in any race at Cheltenham in March.

What is not in doubt, however, is Knocknanuss' relevant experience. The prides of France and Ireland may well prove his superior in time, Master Dino with his nine Auteuil victories up to Grade One level and Glenloe as a hurdler who went within a nose of beating his high-class stablemate Delta Work in last year's Pertemps Hurdle final.

Yet neither has so far jumped a British fence and in fact can together boast just a single chase start - Master Dino's 30-length romp as a long odds-on favourite two months ago.

Knocknanuss, meanwhile, has won his last two novice chases by a combined 38 lengths, most recently taking a useful Newbury field apart at the end of November. He is a tearaway who fell on his own chase debut, but is also talented, has his favoured good ground and an undeniable experience advantage.

Like him, The Two Amigos is likely to try to lead all the way in the Sky Sports Racing Sussex National Handicap Chase.

There is Flat action on the Tapeta surface up at Newcastle, where Galileo's Spear may just have a favourite's chance of winning for the first time in 25 attempts in the opening race.

NAAS: 12.50 Final List, 1.20 Campeador, 1.50 Battleoverdoyen, 2.20 Quamino, 2.50 British Art, 3.20 Meri Devie, 3.50 Long March.

NEWCASTLE: 1.00 Galileo's Spear, 1.30 Rainbow Lad, 2.00 Trautmann, 2.30 Elysees Palace, 3.00 One Vision, 3.30 Portledge.

PLUMPTON: 12.40 Brandon Castle, 1.10 KNOCKNANUSS (NAP), 1.40 Third Wind, 2.10 Shimba Hills, 2.40 The Two Amigos, 3.10 Le Capricieux, 3.40 Oden.

DOUBLE: Knocknanuss and Galileo's Spear.

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