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Emerging Looks A Real Force In National Hunt Chase On Day One Of Festival

Tuesday 21st February 2017

It's three weeks until we hear the famous Cheltenham roar echo around Prestbury Park, but the opening day of the 2017 Festival will also have a poignant angle with the National Hunt Chase being run in honour of JT McNamara, who sadly passed away last year.  We preview the race here, which will provide a platform for amateur jockeys, who aim to follow in McNamara's footsteps, who won the race twice as a jockey during an illustrious career in the saddle.

Genie Aims To Sparkle For Meade

Noel Meade's A Genie In Abottle currently heads the betting for the National Hunt Chase, which is the penultimate race on March 14, but the 6/1 shot with Betfred had a blow to his form line on Sunday as Anibale Fly, who had previously beaten Meade's charge in a Grade 3 at Naas, was well beaten in the farcical Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan.

A Genie In Abottle has only tasted victory once in his four novice chase starts, which saw him beat former Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle winner Martello Tower (14/1), but apart from that he has often found one or two too good for him, so at these skinny odds he is sure to one to take on in what is a wide open betting heat.

He could be one that relishes the step up in trip, but having often found a rival to edge him out in the closing stages of the race then he is certainly one of the favourites worth avoiding at this year's Cheltenham Festival, and there has to be some improved value plays elsewhere.

Strong British Charge Set To Line Up

As is always the case with the Cheltenham Festival the British v Irish angle will take up several column inches, but while the Emerald Isle possess the aforementioned favourite for this race, there will be a strong British contingent lining up and David Pipe's Champers On Ice could well spearhead the home charge.

Third in last year's Albert Bartlett, the Pond House raider is certainly one that will enjoy this marathon test, and at 16/1 with Ladbrokes is of interest, but he was beaten by Harry Fry's American two starts ago, and at the same price that contender could be more value in this mini-clash.

Paul Nicholls' Arpege D'alene continues to frustrate backers as on Saturday he produced a lacklustre display in the Reynoldstown Novices' Chase, and the Ditcheat raider will firstly need to iron out his jumping issues before he comes into calculations at 14/1 with Coral.

Nicky Henderson's Beware The Bear is gradually working his way up the novice chase ranks, and the Seven Barrows' seven-year-old has racked up a quartet of wins in a row, and he was last seen beating Aurillac (50/1) at Newbury last time out, so while he will need to build on that effort adds more depth to the British charge at 16/1 with Betfred.

Arpege D'alene may have disappointed in the abovementioned Reynoldstown, but Bigbadjohn caught the eye when landing the Ascot Grade 2, and he is 16/1 with Betfair Sportsbook for this contest, and has to be given a second look.

Emerging A Force To Watch In Marathon

A relentless galloper is needed to win this race and one horse throughout this season that will certainly venture into that bracket is the Harry Whittington-trained Emerging Force, who at 20/1 with Sky Bet bookmakers looks a cracking bet for this energy-sapping contest.

He racked up a brace of comfortable wins earlier in the season at Hereford and Exeter, before he ran a positive race at Cheltenham in December, where he was trying to give weight away to the likes of Arpege D'alene and eventual winner Singlefarmpayment (who could be an each way play at 25/1 with Coral).

Fourth that day, Emerging Force was just tapped for toe at a crucial stage of the race, but Whittington's flag-bearer looks tailor-made for this race, and his bundles of stamina could see him outbattle his rivals up the hill, and he is the one to be with for what should be an ultra-competitive renewal.

Best Of The Rest

Willie Mullins's Childrens List (25/1) and Joseph O'Brien's Edwulf (20/1) could be a couple of Irish raiders taking their chance, and the former of that duo won their battle when they met earlier in the season, but Mullins has a plethora of entries for this race with the likes of Haymount and Briar Hill, both 25/1 chances, so it's hard to assess which runners the Co. Carlow handler will unleash here.

Of the others, Martello Tower has failed to build on his Albert Bartlett win a couple of years ago, but if there was to be soft ground for the opening day of the meeting then he can't be overlooked, while Vintage Clouds (40/1) is an eye-catching entry for Sue Smith, but it's tough to know his big-race target after he was third in Saturday's Grand National Trial at Haydock Park.

So, in what is still a rather unsettled ante-post market it's Emerging Force who catches the eye as a potential winner, and he could well hand Whittington a memorable moment in the limelight by winning this coveted staying crown.

Selection - Emerging Force to win @ 20/1 with Skybet.com

*Price correct at time of writing

2017 JT McNamara National Hunt Chase Odds

Blow By Blow 16/1
Champagne Classic 16/1
Santini 16/1
Next Destination 14/1
The Worlds End 20/1
Bacardys 20/1
Cracking Smart 20/1
Delta Work 20/1
Kilbricken Storm 25/1
Cubomania D N Russell / G Elliott 25/1
Minella Awards 25/1
Discorama 25/1
Ok Corral 25/1
Robin Des Foret 25/1
Carter Mckay 20/1
Chef Des Obeaux 33/1
White Moon 25/1
Lil Rockerfeller 33/1
Ballyward 33/1
Brahma Bull 25/1
Mall Dini 33/1
Mr Whipped 33/1
La Bague Au Roi 33/1
Dortmund Park 33/1
Euxton Lane 33/1
Duke Debarry 33/1
Chriss Dream 33/1
Tower Bridge Mr J J Slevin / Joseph P O'Brien 33/1
Rockys Treasure 33/1
Jetz 33/1
Poetic Rhythm 50/1
Equus Secretus 50/1
Debece 50/1
Jerrysback 50/1
Piri Massini 66/1
Its All Guesswork 66/1
Jammin Masters 66/1
Pickamix 66/1
Jaunty Flyer 100/1
Each Way Terms 3

10. Cubomania D N Russell / G Elliott
28. Tower Bridge Mr J J Slevin / Joseph P O'Brien
Odds correct as of 10th Apr, 04:02 . Odds are subject to change.
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