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Three Kingdoms Can Reign In Fascinating JLT Novices' Chase

Tuesday 17th February 2015

Day three of the Cheltenham Festival kicks off with an ultra-competitive renewal of the JLT Novices' Chase and with Un De Sceaux likely to scare off a host of rivals in the Arkle Challenge Trophy a few days previous then a number of exciting novice chasers could do battle in this 2m 4f Grade 1 contest.  Last season's runaway Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Vautour could spearhead this year's line-up, but the likes of Ptit Zig and Apache Stronghold will be joined by a plethora of exciting talents and it's destined to be a wide open renewal on March 12.

Main JLT Novices' Chase Contenders

Vautour lit up last season's Cheltenham Festival with a performance full of class and pizzazz, as he bounded clear in the 2014 curtain-raiser, but the Willie Mullins-trained raider has suffered a topsy-turvy season and he will hope a return to Prestbury Park can ignite another breathtaking display.

He breezed to an eight-length victory over Clarcam on his chasing debut at Navan, but a month later he failed to sparkle when beaten by the aforementioned Gordon Elliott-trained raider in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase.  A jolting jumping error saw him lose all momentum in that festive contest and it was back to the drawing board for Mullins.

Success in Grade 2 company came next, but his 92-length win was made easier by nearest rival Real Steel falling in the closing stages.  He would have won the race despite the faller, but whilst the win boosted his confidence he will need to improve again if he is to land the JLT Novices' Chase and at 5/2 with Ladbrokes he is sensationally short for what will be a race oozing class.

Ptit Zig has arguably the finest novice chasing form in the book, as Paul Nicholls' star has racked up a quartet of chasing victories, including victory in a couple of Grade 2 races, with his last win over Champagne West the best of the four in the Dipper Novices' Chase.

He showed a real love for the undulations of GL50 and if he can repeat that effort then he could well be a leading player and has to be respected at 4/1 with Betfred.  However, his bubble was burst last time out when handed a huge task to take on seasoned chasers in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase, where he was a mid-race faller in a contest won by Ryanair hopeful Balder Succes.

Apache Stronghold (7/1) and Valseur Lido (10/1) have locked horns on two occasions this season with them coming out at one-apiece in victories at this present stage and the trilogy of duels is set to be completed on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The latter was an emphatic eight-length winner of the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in November, but Apache Stronghold got his own back when fending off the aforementioned Mullins-trained six-year-old when the pair eye-balled each other from the last fence in the Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

Paul Carberry produced a peach of a ride aboard Noel Meade's Apache Stronghold in that Flogas contest, as he picked his rivals off one-by-one and if he could repeat that at Cheltenham then he has to figure, whilst you can't discount Valseur Lido who, if taking his chance, will be a superb second string to the red-hot favourite Vautour, who will carry the primary hopes of the Co. Carlow stable.

Worth A Second Look

As well as have the abovementioned duo of Vautour and Valseur Lido entered for the race, Willie Mullins also has the likes of Gitane Du Berlais and Don Poli entered for this race that was first established in 2011.  Gitane Du Berlais was a fine winner of the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Ascot and if he takes his chance here will not be the 16/1 currently offered, but it's still up in the air on whether he makes the trip over from Ireland and it's foolish to back him without a Non Runner No Bet safety net.

Don Poli (33/1) is another that can be etched into the "unlikely starter" category, as he has looked every bit a staying chaser and with him currently heading the RSA Chase betting and is the selection in our RSA Chase Preview, it will be a shock to see him line up here.

The Tullow Tank was earmarked for great things over fences, but he has often flattered to deceive at the highest level and that's why he is a 25/1 shot with a host of firms.  He produced his best run last time when shaping like he would fight out the finish in the Flogas Novice Chase, but he was unable to quicken with the aforesaid Apache Stronghold and Valseur Lido and it's tough to see him turning that form around.

AP McCoy has ridden both Noble Prince (2011) and Taquin Du Seuil (2014) to victory in this race and with the JP McManus-owned Gilgamboa (25/1) not likely to take his chance, then the perennial champion jockey could well team up with John Ferguson, who may unleash the interesting Three Kingdoms, who is 33/1 with Paddy Power.

Well beaten in last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle, the six-year-old has improved immeasurably over fences and was last seen outstaying Solar Impulse in the Grade 2 Lightning Novices' Chase at Doncaster.  His second to the enigmatic Vibrato Valtat in the Grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton Park is decent form as well, so he could well be a lively each-way outsider.

Ferguson has touched on the fact he feels his raider is a decent stayer and he could well opt for this race instead of the Arkle, as Three Kingdoms could well get run off his feet in that Grade 1, but with McCoy aboard he is sure to not go off a 33/1 chance if taking his place in this wide open JLT and he could well spring a festival shock.

Others to note include Henry de Bromhead's Smashing (33/1), who has been well beaten by Un De Sceaux this season, but has looked a decent performer over fences, whilst Irish Saint (28/1) could add strength alongsides Ptit Zig from Paul Nicholls' yard and that duo could be notable each-way plays at huge double-figured prices.

Conclusion

Vautour's sublime Supreme win 12 months ago at the Cheltenham Festival will live long in the memory, but at a skinny 5/2 he is no value in the ante-post market and it's worth looking elsewhere at this stage for a potential play to take him on with for this intriguing JLT Novices' Chase.

Ptit Zig has sparkled over fences, but a fall in the Ascot Chase can't bode you with confidence, so the two towards the forefront of the market that are more attractive betting propositions are Apache Stronghold and Valseur Lido, who fought out a terrific Flogas Novice Chase.

However, there could well be some value further down the betting and John Ferguson's Three Kingdoms has some really smart chasing form this term and it was no disgrace to finish a narrow second to Arkle hope Vibrato Valtat.  Champion jockey AP McCoy could potentially pick up the ride on March 12 and having ridden Taquin Du Seuil to victory in last year's race he knows what it takes to win and the retiring Northern Irishman could reign yet again at Prestbury Park with Three Kingdoms, who at 33/1 is superb each-way ante-post selection

JLT Novices' Chase Tip 2015

  • Three Kingdoms (each-way) in the JLT Novices' Chase at 33/1 with PaddyPower.com

Latest JLT Novices' Chase Betting - Click To Bet

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Black Op 8/1
Next Destination 14/1
On The Blind Side 16/1
Topofthegame 16/1
Each Way Terms 3
1/5

BEST ODDS
Odds correct as of 11th Apr, 04:01 . Odds are subject to change.
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