RACING fan Gaurav Chaddah (@GauravChaddah) begins looking ahead to the upcoming Cheltenham Festival by providing his ante-post thoughts on the Marsh Novices' Chase.
Cheltenham Festival |Marsh Novices' Chase | Thursday 12th March 2020
We’re back with another ante-post piece this week as the anticipation grows ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.
We are now only three weeks away from the best four days of the racing year and the ante-post picture is becoming clearer by the week as trainers begin to confirm horse running plans.
With that, and many bookmakers going nom-runner-no-bet, for many races, it does make ante-post punting at this stage a little easier and there is still value to be had.
This week we’ll be looking at the Marsh Novices’ Chase, which to many will be known as the JLT, which in 2019 saw a memorable encounter with Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation.
Mullins holding the aces
Willie Mullins is the most successful trainer in the race, having achieved success on four occasions, most recently in 2017 with Yorkhill and could head to this year's race with a strong hand.
Faugheen (8/1 Betfair), has enjoyed somewhat of a revival over fences this year and should he head to the races, goes to Prestbury Park with a live chance of what would be a popular win.
Many questioned Mullins’ decision to send a 12-year-old over fences but it’s no surprise to see the master trainer knew best, as Faugheen has notched up three wins over fences from as many starts, including two Grade One’s.
However, there is no doubt that his victory in the Flogas Novice Chase a fortnight ago on taxing ground would have took a lot out of him and a race at Cheltenham may be one step too far. Ruby Walsh also hinted that may have been his Gold Cup and threw doubt to whether he may even go to the Festival so it might pay to look elsewhere.
There has however been sustained support for another Mullins runner, Allaho, who is best priced 5/1 with William Hill to give Mullins a fifth success in the race. He was impressive as a novice hurdler last season, finishing third to Minella Indo in the Albert Bartlett and found him one too good again at Punchestown in April.
On chase debut, Allaho was beaten by the race fit and stable mate Easy Game, who was then second to Faugheen in a Grade 1 before running out an impressive 21-length winner of a beginners chase last month. He remains very unexposed and there could still be improvement to come after only two chase starts but his price is rather skinny for what he’s achieved and may find a more experienced rival a little too good.
Itchy Feet heads English challenge
Defi Du Sueil recorded victory in this race last year after winning the Scily Isles at Sandown and Itchy Feet (6/1 Betway), will be looking to emulate him by doing just that. He was third in last year's Supreme and won a three-runner novice chase on seasonal reappearance in December by 26 lengths.
We didn’t really learn a lot about him that day however he was then thrown straight into Grade 1 company and was impressive winner, beating Midnight Shadow by three lengths, with the pair 15 lengths clear of the rest. Like Allaho, he’s only raced over fences twice and already has a Grade 1 success to his name.
There will be clearly more improvement to come and is clearly the best of the English crop but like Allaho, there is a worry his inexperience could catch him out and has also been well found in the market.
Chance Fakir for another JP Success
It remains to be seen to where Joseph O’Brien and JP McManus will decide to send Fakir D’oudaries as he is in the Arkle as well as this but is very much of interest should he turn up here.
It’s worth noting he is a shorter price for the Arkle than he is for this, with a best price of 12/1 with William Hill but it would be no surprise should he take up his entry in here instead.
Should he go to the Arkle, he would clash again with Notebook who beat him at Christmas and that day it seemed Fakir D’oudaries was doing his best work towards the end, suggesting a step up in trip might be an option.
He did race over a longer trip at the beginning of the season, winning s Grade 1 by 22 lengths. He was fortunate that Samcro, his nearest challenger fell when coming to challenge, with many suggesting he would win however his performance against Faugheen perhaps suggests otherwise.
He was due to run at the Dublin Racing Festival however was pulled out due to the ground so goes to Cheltenham fresh and connections may see this race more of a winnable one than trying to reverse form with Notebook.
He has shown he stays the trip well and is a slick jumper over his fences and should he take up this assignment, won’t be 12/1 on the day and I say that’s worth chancing.
Marsh Novices' Chase – Fakir D’oudaries (12/1 William Hill)
This article was published on Monday 17th February 2020.