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Marsh Novices Chase Tips - 1:30pm Cheltenham

2020 Marsh Novices’ Chase Preview

The opening race on the third day of the Festival is the Marsh Novices’ Chase, this is the old JLT Chase but with a new shiny sponsor. The race was first run in 2011 and the Irish have won seven of the nine renewals so far.

Willie Mullins has won the race four times and would bring the house down if he could make it five with Faugheen. The former Champion Hurdler is a 12yo now and after a quiet spell is back with a bang this season over fences.

He started his chasing career at Punchestown in November and apart from bad blunder half way round he came through unscathed and won by 7 ½ lengths. I think the first run was just about seeing if he has the enthusiasm back and he came through that test.

Next time out he went straight into a Grade 1 contest at Limerick and took on the mighty Samcro. The Elliott runner was made favourite but had no answer to Faugheen between the last two and elder statesman pulled away to win by 10 lengths. His biggest task was yet to come back at Leopardstown in the Flogas Chase.

It was a competitive field for the Grade 1 race and Faugheen was up with the pace throughout, he went ahead going to the last and held on in terrific style from stable mate Easy Game. That win gives him every chance here and if he won it would be by far the most popular of the whole festival.

The yard also run Melon who was a pretty useful hurdler in his own right too, he has won over fences this season but was a disappointing 4th last time out at Leopardstown and will need to bounce back to his best to figure here.

Samcro will fancy his chances on turning the tables here on a track where he won the Ballymore Hurdle. It’s fair to say things haven’t worked out for Samcro how everyone thought, last season was a write off with no wins in three starts but came back with a win on his chasing debut at Down Royal.

Next time out he faced his first real test over fences at Fairyhouse in a Grade 1 contest, he was disputing the lead and going well enough when coming down two out, the race went to main rival Fakir D’oudairies. Most judges think he would have won that day.

The best hope of a home victory comes in the shape of Itchy Feet, a 6yo trained by Olly Murphy. He finished 3rd in the Supreme Hurdle last season but then failed to improve on that at Aintree and maybe chasing was always going to be his bag.

He opened his chasing account at Leicester in a weak race and it proved little apart from that he could actually jump a fence. For his next task he was chucked in at the deep end and contested the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Chase.

Favourite Laurina pulled up that day but it should take anything away from a superb performance by Itchy Feet who came home 3 ½ lengths clear of Midnight Shadow. It was the first ever Grade 1 win for Murphy and targeted this race immediately. He looks sure to go well.

The second horse Midnight Shadow deserves plenty of credit, he had already won here at Cheltenham when beating Paint The Dream in the Dipper Chase, he may have been a tad fortunate that day when favourite Champ fell but you can only win the race. He has a couple of pounds to find on the book but will be staying on up the hill.

Nicky Henderson has yet to win this race and his Mister Fisher could be an interesting contender. His form rather tailed off over hurdles last season but has had a new lease of life over the bigger obstacles. After finishing second at Warwick on debut he won here over C/D beating Good Boy Bobby in good style.

Last time out he went to Doncaster and dropped down in trip to win the Lightning Chase from Al Dancer. He needs to improve a bit more but his liking for this track and trip will do him no harm here.

Another one to consider is the Colin Tizzard 6yo Reserve Tank, he won his first two starts over hurdles in minor events last year and then surprised everyone by winning the Grade 1 Mersey Hurdle at Aintree in April. Just to show that was no fluke he followed up at the Punchestown Festival and was a really exciting prospect for this season.

Well things rarely work out the way you want them too and Reserve Tank has now been beaten twice in his three starts since going chasing. He did win a Grade 2 contest at Wincanton so it’s not all bad news and one of his defeats was over 3 miles. Back at this trip on better ground may see him return to his best as he could just be a spring horse and it’s too soon to write him off.

Punters Lounge Tip: Itchy Feet 4/1 at bet365 - Click Here To Bet
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