Crus bids to build on 100% chase start

Hat-trick: Brilliant hurdler Grands Crus has won his first three races over fences.
Hat-trick: Brilliant hurdler Grands Crus has won his first three races over fences.

Exciting grey Grands Crus is set to put his unbeaten record over fences on the line in the Betfair. Don’t Settle For Less Novices’ Chase at Newbury on Saturday.

The top-class staying hurdler has made a brilliant start to his career over the larger obstacles, completing a hat-trick with a superb display in the Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

While he remains hot favourite for the RSA Chase at next month’s Cheltenham Festival, connections have not yet ruled out going for Gold Cup glory.

Two Paul Nicholls-trained entries for Saturday’s three-mile prize look set to miss the race.

Join Together and Silviniaco Conti have both been given the option but the champion trainer said at his open day on Monday he would rather neither had a hard race against Grands Crus and he has the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot and a later valuable event at Fontwell as back-up options.

A total of 25 entries have been received, with Loose Preformer, Mossley, Our Mick and Penny Max some of the more interesting possibles.

Nicholls hopes to learn more about Hold Fast’s Cheltenham Festival credentials when he runs in the Betfair Super Saturday Chase at the Newbury meeting.

The former Howard Johnson inmate was beaten on his first start for the champion trainer at Newbury early on this season, but he took a big leap forward when running away with a competitive handicap at Sandown a month ago.

The eight-year-old has been given a speculative entry in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham next month and connections are likely to find out whether he is really up to that level after he lines up on Saturday.

“It looks like being a hot race but he hosed up at Sandown and we want to run him on Saturday to see where we are,” said Nicholls.