William Hill Towton Novices’ Chase
Grade 2 Handicap, Wetherby 14:40
£45,000 guaranteed,
5yo plus,
3m 45y, Class 1   
Saturday 4th February 2023

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1 City Chief 7/2
2 O'Toole 7/2
3 Bellatrixsa 16/1
4 ran Distances: 5l, 23l
Time: 6m 13.02s (slow by 9.02s)

James Bowen sent City Chief to the front from halfway in the 3m race and came home a five-length winner on the Nicky Henderson-trained 7-2 shot, who won a three-runner handicap at Hereford last month.

But the jockey fears he may not be quite ready for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, for which he is quoted as short as 7-1 by QuinnBet.

"He was good," Bowen said. "I had to make plenty of use of him because he wants further really but he jumped better today.

"I don't know about Cheltenham as he's still got a bit of growing up to do. He'd stay the trip but he may be more of an Ayr horse. I think he had plenty left at the end."

Cheltenham is off the agenda for 4-5 favourite Ballygrifincottage, who was behind when pulled up and burst a blood vessel.

He had been a candidate for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase and trainer Dan Skelton said: "The ground was too quick, everything was happening too fast and he bled. It's back to the drawing board but we'll look after him and he'll be fine."

William Hill Towton Novices' Chase (Grade 2)
£45,000 guaranteed, 5yo plus, 3m 45y, Class 1
4 ran
Going: Good to Soft, Good in places

1     City Chief 6 11-2 Nicky Henderson James Bowen 7/2
5 O'Toole 7 11-2 S R B Crawford Sam Ewing 7/2
23 Bellatrixsa 6 10-9 Venetia Williams Harry Bannister 16/1
PU Ballygrifincottage 8 11-5 Dan Skelton Harry Skelton 4/5F