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Cheltenham Festival Novice Chase Preview

Brian Hayes for Bookies.com

Brian Hayes  | 4 mins

Cheltenham Festival Novice Chase Preview

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We really are flying towards Cheltenham now.

The buzz around the yards is really picking up and it is a great time of the year as every horse is a winner and all our dreams are still intact.

For the blog this week we decided to run through the Novice Chase division at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Weekend Ahead

Firstly, I have a busy day on Saturday with a few who could run well. Bynx would have an each-way chance with the leading bookmakers, now in handicap company for Martin Hassett. He’s been racing in decent company and should find this sort of level more to his liking.

I ride Better Times Ahead in the Handicap Chase for Robert Tyner and on his best form, he would have a decent chance in this handicap chase. Saying that though, he does need to put aside a poor effort last time.

I’m particularly looking forward to Macs Charm for Colm Murphy in the Beginners Chase. He ended his hurdle career on a mark of 137, so he does have every right to get involved at the business end on Saturday. I thought he jumped well last time, but that was just a particularly hot race and the front three there were of a good calibre. He has course form and likes soft ground.

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Cheltenham Novice Chases

With the festival not far away, I thought I would give my opinion on the Novice Chase division at the Cheltenham Festival.

In the Arkle, I think the market has found the right positions now. Having ridden in the race he won last time, I think El Fabiolo will take a lot of stopping, if he puts in a similar performance once again. That was a ferocious pace and how he quickened off that was scarily impressive. The only fear you could have for him is his inexperience, and he might not get away with a mistake at Cheltenham. On raw ability though, he looks the one to beat.

Jonbon wasn’t impressive at the weekend, but I think Harry Skelton deserves a bit of praise for how he rode Calico. I think he might have caught Aidan Coleman by surprise when he pounced so early on good ground. Saying that though, you’d have to be impressed with Aidan Coleman, a top class jockey, who never panicked, and he probably learned even more about his mount.

Jonbon threw in a similar performance before the festival last year, and he could well kick on now. The front two could have it between them, but the rest of the field aren’t slouches by any means!

I actually think Saint Roi could be overpriced at 25/1 here. He is a Grade 1 winner himself and went out too early in the Irish Arkle to know anything there. Saint Roi was quick enough to win a County Hurdle and has acquitted himself well at the top level on a few occasions. I don’t think he is at all out of his depth here.

He’s a very smart animal at his best, and 25/1 for an Arkle looks a bit too big in truth.

Mighty Potter Will Be Hard To Stop

In the Marsh Novices’ Chase, I do think Mighty Potter will be very hard to stop. I had my slight doubts before the Dublin Racing Festival about him in that I thought he needed soft ground, but he proved that definitely wasn’t the case.

I was extremely impressed with him last time. I thought coming to the last that Adamantly Chosen and I had a chance, but in a matter of strides Mighty Potter picked up again to power clear. He did that in the shape of a very good horse, and I see no reason to oppose him in this market.

One angle into the race is Adamantly Chosen, who seems very big again at 33/1 with some horse racing betting sites. His form behind Geri Colombe and Mighty Potter is very strong, and there is no reason he can’t place here. The better the ground, the better his chance.

Sir Gerhard Is Looking Good

In the Brown Advisory I would take a chance on Sir Gerhard. His jumping definitely needs to improve, but he has point-to-point experience which is something people underestimate sometimes when a horse embarks on a Novice Chase campaign. He would have been schooled by one of the best in the business in Derek O’Connor, who won his point-to-point on him. He was brilliant in the Ballymore last season, he is a top class animal and I think you’ll see the best version of him in four weeks time.

In the National Hunt Chase I could see both Mahler Mission and Churchstonewarrior giving Gaillard Du Mesnil a bit to think about, as I thought they both ran crackers last weekend in Navan fighting out the finish. They are both tough horses and this challenge should definitely suit them.

About the Author

Brian Hayes for Bookies.com
Brian Hayes
Brian Hayes is a leading Irish jockey based with the Willie Mullins yard and regular rider at all the big national hunt racing festivals including Galway, Punchestown Aintree and Cheltenham. The Cork native has ridden high in the riding ranks despite not hailing from a racing background and quickly becoming a relied on partner for some of the best horses in top training yards.