Cheltenham Day 3: JLT Novices' Chase

A review of the short history of the JLT Novices’ Chase, combined with a preview of this year's race. Plus, the all-important racing selection!

The JLT Novices’ Chase is due to start at 13.30 on Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival. It’s comprised of seventeen fences over a distance of two miles and four furlongs, with the race being open to horses aged five years and over.

Originally called the Jewson Novices’ Chase, this race is one of the newest at the Festival, debuting in 2011. Tony McCoy is the leading jockey in the race with two wins, and as of yet no trainer has won the race more than once. The prize money for the race is totalled at £120,000, with first place receiving £68,340. Irish trained horses won the first three races with Taquin De Seuil bringing home the gold in last years renewal.

So although there have only been four runnings, there are still some race trends to be examined.

Seven year olds have won three of the four races, with five places. Meaning that seven year olds took eight out of twelve places from nineteen runners. However, seven year olds have represented 41% of overall runners. Six year olds have produced one winner and one place from fourteen runners and eight year olds have produced two places from seven entrants.

Seventeen of the runners were French bred, with two of these winning and two placing. Irish bred horses have produced twenty-four runners with one winning and five placing. German bred horses have run three times with one winning and British bred horses have had two runs with one placing.

Four out of the four winners finished in the first two in a grade one or grade two last time out, with a Racing Post Rating (RPR) of 150+. All four winners ran between forty-five and fifty-five days before the race, having run in three to five chases in their career, winning over two miles and four furlongs. All four winners had run in a minimum of three and a maximum of eleven hurdles races, and were rated 140+.

Three out of four winners had won a grade one or grade two chase in their career. All four winners have finished in the first two in all of their chase runs with an exception that two of them had finished in the top four of a grade one race. The Irish Arkle is a good indication for the winner of a race, with two of the three Irish trained winners finishing in the top two of the race. All four winners ran in a hurdles race at the previous years festival.

Tony Martin has sent out one runner in the race, winning that run. Willie Mullins has sent out seven runners with one winning. Nigel Twiston-Davies has saddled three runners with two placing. Henry De Bromhead and Philip Hobbs have both saddled two runners with one placing (both were in the same race in 2011).

The first two winners were second favourite, whilst the following two were 20/1 and 7/1. Favourites have finished second twice and unplaced twice, showing a level stakes loss of £4.00.

So according to the trends, the profile of the selection we are looking for is a seven year old that’s either Irish or French bred, and has run in three to five chases this season, never finishing out of the first two. A horse that finished in the top two in a graded chase last time out, and posted 150+ in the process. A horse that, before that run, had won a grade one or grade two race (a potential exception is if they were a close second in a grade one). The selection must have won over a distance of two miles and four furlongs. It needs to be a previous hurdler that ran in at least three races, and a maximum of eleven, whilst being rated 140+. They must have run over hurdles in the festival last year. It is preferable that they are trained in Ireland, and won the Irish Arkle or ran in the Racing Post Trophy.

So according to the trends, this results in three horses with nine out of eleven trends; these were Vautour, Apache Stronghold and Valseur Lido. Of these three, Apache Stronghold is the only horse that is seven years old, however Vautour is the only horse to have run in the Racing Post Trophy.

I will be backing Vautour at 5/2 in my multiples and Apache Stronghold each way at 6/1, and maybe Three Kingdoms each way for a little bit of fun at 33/1 (Three Kingdoms scored seven out of eleven – third highest).

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