Cheltenham Festival – JLT Novices Chase: Stable form a key pointer in Day 3 opener

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A cracking start to Day 3 with the JLT Chase. Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) is our man at the controls.

Cheltenham 13:30 | JLT Novice Chase | ITV1

The JLT Novice Chase has fast become a popular and noteworthy race in its short existence and two seasons ago the late Vatour was a spectacular winner. This season sees another Mullins hotpot line up but with the yard having a quiet festival there are question marks galore regarding Yorkhill.

Jumping a real concern

Let’s start with the favourite. He is a multiple Grade 1 winner and is unbeaten over fences with course form to his name. There are many positives for Yorkhill and he is a horse I like. However Willie Mullins has yet to have a winner at the meeting and on his two starts over fences so far his jumping has been sketchy with a tendency to jump left.

Now that should be ok here on a left handed track but on quicker ground in a top class race any errors will be amplified and it has to be a real concern.

Disko comes here on the back of Grade 1 success at Leopardstown and he’s a serious player on that form. His jumping was slick that day and he is a likely pace angle in this race.

However, his trainer Noel Meade does not have a great record at the meeting and this is going to be the quickest ground he’s encountered so far. He’s only six so has any amount of improvement in him, however the overall level of his form indicates he needs to.

Politologue has been impressive in small fields and has won three of his four starts over fences. He’s uncomplicated and in my opinion is the most natural jumper of fences in the field. However, he was disappointing in the Coral Cup last season and he’s another who may need more juice in the ground to be seen at his very best.

Slick jumper

Top Notch has plenty of festival experience with a second in the Triumph Hurdle to his name along with his Champion Hurdle fifth and he’s looking like he’s transforming that talent to fences.

Third on his debut over fences in a hot race, he has improved with every start and his jumping is now pretty slick. He won a Grade 1 last time (relatively weak) but did so in great style. With his stable going well I think he looks the most likely winner here as long as the ground doesn’t turn too quick.

Best Bets

JLT Novice Chase – Top Notch (7/2 10BET)

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I grew up watching Hearts games with my dad and playing football at every opportunity so betting on it was the logical next step! Football coupons became a Saturday ritual and it introduced me into the world of horse racing. I started watching it on a regular basis, and after Galileo's Derby win in 2001 I was hooked. I follow both flat and national hunt racing attending the northern meetings when possible.

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