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Rookie has ability to build on Chepstow experience.

Byline: Race analysis by Richard Birch REPORTING BY DAVID MILNES

ON OFFICIAL hurdle ratings, Call Me Lord would hold outstanding claims if translating that form to fences.

Nicky Henderson's nineyear-old is rated 148 over hurdles, 15lb superior to Calico and Pure Bliss.

He was a bit disappointing first time in a chase over 2m4f at Uttoxeter last month, but may have needed the run, weakening to finish fourth behind Come On Teddy, who failed to frank the form on Saturday in the Grade 2 Dipper Novices' Chase at Cheltenham.

The drop back to two miles also provides something of a question mark as Call Me Lord was tried over an extended three miles at Aintree three starts ago.

Red Rookie, who finished third to Saturday's impressive Exeter scorer Broken Halo in an Irish point-to-point, has since won two heavy-ground bumpers and a Sandown novice hurdle.

He's always looked like a chaser, though, and made a highly promising start when a neck second to Witness Protection at Chepstow in November.

The race had yet to take shape when he fell at the eighth at Ascot subsequently, and it would be no surprise to see him make it third-time lucky over fences.

Pure Bliss, who receives the 7lb mares' allowance, shaped nicely first time over fences when second to Deja Vue at

Exeter.

She signed off the 2020-21 campaign with victory in a Punchestown mares' handicap hurdle, emerging with great credit that day by giving the runner-up Merry Poppins 22lb.

Calico, who contested Group races on the Flat in Germany, may not be bred to excel over fences, but arrives on the back of an excellent Lingfield second to Hudson De Grugy in a handicap hurdle off top weight.

What they say Anthony Bromley, racing manager to Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, owners of Call Me Lord It was a shame that Leicester was abandoned last week as that was a lot easier race, but we're hopeful of a bold show. James Bowen knows him well having ridden him a lot over hurdles, including when winning the International Hurdle at Cheltenham over this trip.

Tom Bellamy, rider of Red Rookie He ended up on the floor last time at Ascot when I asked him for a big one and we just had a bit of a miscommunication. He's a horse that we've always thought a lot of and the form of his previous second at Chepstow has worked out unbelievably well. He's schooled well since and hopefully he can get back on track.

Jamie Snowden, trainer of Soldier Of Destiny He didn't get home over 2m5f over hurdles at Ascot last time and hopefully this drop in trip will suit him. We've always wanted to go chasing with him, but there are few options in the programme book and, as he hasn't got a handicap mark, he has to run against these smart types.

Jane Williams, trainer of Galice Macalo We don't know what went wrong at Exeter last time, she was never happy, so we've put a line through that effort. We're hoping this different configuration of track will suit her better and we're hopeful she can put that episode behind her.

RACE IN FOCUS 2.15 Hereford Follow @ATTHERACEs On Twitter Novices' Chase 2m Sky Card and Spotlight, page 36

CAPTION(S):

Zafar (left) takes the last under Theo Gillard before winning at Musselburgh yesterday. Reports, page 13

JOHN GROSSICK (RACINGPOST.COM/PHOTOS)

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Race analysis by Richard Birch REPORTING BY DAVID MILNES
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 4, 2022
Words:569
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