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Antepost Punting: Ultima Handicap Chase

1.5pts each-way Does He Know in the Ultima Handicap Chase at 20/1 (5 Places)

Kim Bailey went close to landing this contest with subsequent Aintree handicap scorer Happygoluck last year, and I’m hopeful that Andoversford based handler can go one place better in March courtesy of Does He Know.

The Alkaased gelding defeated subsequent three-time scorer Threeunderthrufive on his chasing debut at Chepstow and gave that same rival a race when chasing him home over the Ultima Handicap Chase course and distance in November.

Paul Nicholls’ charge has scored in Grade 2 company since (could run in Grade 2 company again on Saturday) and connections considered giving him an entry in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is a clear indication of the regard in which he is held.

Does He Know slotted in an Ultima Handicap Chase course and distance success in between those two runs when successfully conceding 8lbs to the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Undersupervision, who threw away his chance when attempting to jump a rail on the run-in.

Although close at the time, I feel that Kim Bailey’s charge was getting the better of that argument regardless and the fact that he has both winning and good placed form over the Ultima Handicap Chase course and distance is clearly a huge positive. It is also worth noting that he won at Prestbury Park twice over hurdles – including at Grade 2 level – and boasts overall form figures of 11512.

The fifth placed effort was achieved in the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and the fact that connections saw fit to run him in such a contest demonstrates the regard in which they hold him.

It seems significant that connections elected to get Does He Know out early to gain valuable experience both in this sphere and over this course and distance before putting him away over the winter months. It is also interesting to note that he boasts form-figures of 1211 (including his point-to-point success and racecourse debut) following a break of 192 days or more.

Indeed, the aforementioned Happygolucky trod a similar path last year as he too had three runs prior to Christmas – including one at Cheltenham – before arriving at Prestbury Park fresh and well in March.

Does He Know clocked a final circuit time just 2 seconds slower than the 3m1f handicap chase run earlier on the card when successful in October, in spite of carrying 21lbs more than the winner of that contest. While he was only 3 seconds slower than the final circuit time clocked by the hugely progressive Before Midnight, whom carried 19lbs less, in the 2 mile handicap chase.

It’s fair to say that Does He Know hasn’t always been fluent at his fences, but Kim Bailey will have had plenty of time to perfect that by March, and he is clearly open to further improvement after just three starts over fences.

Everything seemingly points to this being the plan and he looks fair value at 20/1.

* final circuit time = last fence on final circuit to the line.

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