JLT Novices Chase Tips - 1.30pm Cheltenham

Leading Contenders

We have only had seven renewals of the JLT Chase but already we are seeing a pattern, the Irish have won all but one of them and trainer Willie Mullins has won the race four times already including the last three with Vautour, Black Hercules and Yorkhill.

This year Mullins has a couple of interesting runners but neither are the ‘good things’ we are accustomed too in the opening race on day two. Invitation Only is owned by the Wiley’s who lifted the trophy in 2016 and 2017 and he kicked off his chasing campaign with a fall at Punchestown.

He won his next two starts including a Grade 3 contest and then was fancied for the Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown. The 7yo ran a fine race to finish 3rd behind Monalee in a driving finish and certainly lost nothing in defeat. He’s a lightly raced sort and could have a lot of improvement in him still.

The horse just in front of Invitation Only that day was Al Boum Photo. This ex-French gelding was too immature for the Festival last year but did win a Grade 2 hurdle at Fairyhouse in April. He started his chasing career with a smooth victory over Tycoon Prince at Navan and was odds on for a better race at Limerick next time out. He was travelling well when coming down at the last and was a very unlucky loser that day.

It was no surprise he then ran so well at Leopardstown and was staying on better than anything at the line. He makes the odd careless blunder, which will cost him at Cheltenham, but he comes into the race with a good chance.

Ante-post favourite for the race is Willoughby Court trained by Ben Pauling, he won last years Neptune so will have no worries about the hustle and bustle of the Festival. The 7yo was always going to be a better chaser and it seems he’s well on the way after two victories in his first three starts over the bigger obstacles.

He won a small race at Huntingdon in November and then stepped up in class to beat Yanworth in a Grade 2 contest at Newbury. He jumped well on both occasions and went to the top of many bookmakers’ lists for this race.

Next time out at the Cheltenham trials meeting he encountered heavy ground for the first time and was beaten into third place by Yanworth and Sizing Tennessee. He made a couple of errors and clearly the ground didn’t suit his style of running. I think we can forgive him that blip and he looks the one to beat on form.

Gary Moore has had some useful chasers in his time and Benatar could be the next one. He only ran four times over hurdles, as this game was always the aim. He started off at Ascot in November where he bolted up showing a lovely turn of foot from two out and caught the opposition napping.

He then went to Plumpton to win a small race and the object there was to make him eligible for the bonus prize which the Sussex track put up each year for any horse going on to follow up at the Festival. He won by 9 lengths in a messy race but got the job done. He then went back to Ascot where he outpointed Finian’s Oscar in a photo and could be a danger to all if able to settle early on.

Finian’s Oscar himself has been a big disappointment this season despite winning two of his four starts over fences. To me he hasn’t looked a natural over the bigger obstacles and switching him back to hurdles last time told its own story. He pulled up that day and in a first time tongue-tie and he will probably come here now.

Owners Simon Munir and Isaac Suede have a good team assembled this season and could have Terrefort lined up for this contest. With their star chaser Footpad likely to go for the Arkle the way is clear for the Nicky Henderson trained 5yo to run here.

He came over from France at the end of last year having had plenty of chasing experience already; he actually had six starts as a 4yo. He made his debut for the yard at Huntingdon in January and won by an easy 10 lengths from Bentelimar. It was so impressive he was pitched into a Grade 1 contest next time out at Sandown.

He took the step up in class in his stride and won the Scilly Isles Chase in a thrilling finish from the Paul Nicholls trained Cyrname. He has certainly improved since coming to the UK and who knows how far he can go.

Nicholls also has Modus entered for JP McManus, he won his first two chases without much fuss and then next time out was a faller at Exeter in bad ground. He could bounce back for a better surface but will need to improve on what we have seen so far.



JLT Novices Chase Runners



Getting the latest odds...

JLT Novices Chase Trends


JLT Novices Chase Previous Winners

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer SP
2017 Yorkhill 7 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 6/4
2016 Black Hercules 7 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 4/1
2015 Vautour 6 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 6/4
2014 Taquin du Seuil 7 Tony McCoy Jonjo O'Neill 7/1
2013 Benefficient 7 Bryan Cooper Tony Martin 20/1
2012 Sir Des Champs 6 Davy Russell Willie Mullins 3/1
2011 Noble Prince 7 Tony McCoy Paul Nolan 4/1

 

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