Novice is by Faa the best

Faasel made an encouraging start to his new career in the Richmond Beginners' Chase at Catterick and looks set to take high rank in the novice chasing department.

Faasel made an encouraging start to his new career in the Richmond Beginners' Chase at Catterick and looks set to take high rank in the novice chasing department.

Nicky Richards' six-year-old was just below the best over timber but regularly acquitted himself well, finishing second in the 2005 Triumph Hurdle and eighth in the Champion Hurdle itself last March.

Connections had been mulling sending him chasing for some time, however, and this smooth eight-length win over the useful Euro American vindicated the decision.

The 8-11 favourite jumped immaculately throughout for Tony Dobbin and was handed a 20-1 quote for the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival by totesport.

Richards said: "That was all right wasn't it? He jumped fantastically all the way round, but to win like that on soft ground when he wants good, fast ground is very pleasing. The second is well-regarded too.

"He deserves to win a race as he has been mixing it with the big boys for a while and for his first two runs this year he was not quite at his best.

"He has an entry in the Arkle and is in the Jewson (two miles five furlongs). I am convinced he will stay three miles.

"We were going to consider the World Hurdle this year, but that looks a pretty hot race.

"He has bags of ability and if he translates his hurdle form to fences he will take high order among the novices this year."

Meanwhile, Donald McCain saddled yet another winner in the shape of Our Jasper (13-2) in the Book On-Line At catterickbridge.co.uk Handicap Hurdle.

Stephen Craine sent the seven-year-old novice to the front down the back straight and gamely held off the challenge of the former Sir Michael Stoute-trained Thunder Rock, now with Jonjo O'Neill, by a neck, a mistake at the last not having helped the 5-2 favourite's cause.

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