Follow Jumps Racing on Facebook
Horse Racing

Three Musketeers Can Put JLT Rivals To The Sword

Thursday 10th March 2016

The JLT Novices Chase has only been part of the Cheltenham Festival schedule since 2011 but already it feels like a mainstay with some classy winners on the roll of honour. Ireland have won four of the five renewals so far with Vautour's famous win last year the clear highlight as he produced one of the better performances in recent memory.

But what of this year's race I hear you ask.

It is always difficult to bet ante-post on the JLT with a whole host of the entries also entered up for races like the RSA Chase or the Arkle but with the majority of bookmakers now going Non Runner, No Bet, it is about time we had a real look at the contest.

Will Bristol Be De Man?

At the time of writing the ante-post JLT favourite is the highly exciting Bristol De Mai who will go to post for Nigel Twiston-Davies and he is one that we know will run if he is fit and well. The grey was decent enough hurdler (3rd in the Grade 1 Juvenile Race at Aintree) but he has been a different horse this term since taking to fences.

The main strength of Bristol De Mai is without question his jumping which has been nothing short of sensational so far and heading to Cheltenham many believe it will give him the edge. The 5-year-old has won four of his six starts this term with only Garde La Victoire and the very highly touted Ar Mad getting the better of him since he took to the larger obstacles which is solid form.

His hurdling form would perhaps be not good enough to win a Grade 1 at Cheltenham but it is hard to pick holes in Bristol De Mai and as a result he does look the one to beat at a price of 9/2 with Betway.

Willie Looking For More Big Race Success

Willie Mullins famously won the JLT 12 moths ago with Vautour and as you would expect, the all conquering handler has another strong hand at his disposal this term. He might not have a horse the quality of Vautour going for the race but he does have at lease a couple of live contenders including the improving Outlander (5/1).

The 8-year-old ran a decent race in the Neptune last year when 6th and like Bristol De Mai, he looks to be even better over fences so far. He has won all three of his starts as a Novice Chaser, including last time out when winning the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase in testing ground at Leopardstown.

Potential JLT opponents like Pont Alexandre (33/1) and Zabana (14/1) were both well beaten by him that day and that has to put him in the frame for Cheltenham. There is a suspicion that he does want some sort of cut in the ground to be seen to his best which would be a worry whilst at eight, he is considered an older novice chaser but even taking that into account, he is as short as 5/1 for the JLT.

We have already mentioned Pont Alexandre (33/1) who could run for Willie Mullins and he was once considered a potential superstar but he has quite reached those levels this winter for Mullins having returned from a long lay-off, but he remains an each-way prospect.

Mullins also has both Shaneshill and Black Hercules entered up and you would assume one of them would run in the JLT Novices Chase and one in the RSA with both owned by Graham Wylie. Shaneshill (10/1) chased home Douvan in the Supreme last season over 2m which is top class form but he disappointed last time out at Doncatser which would be a worry, whilst Black Hercules (10/1) looks a strong stayer who may well drop in trip for the JLT after falling last time out.

Anything Else At A Bigger Price?

The JLT betting market this season is a difficult one for punters but that does mean there should be some value at an each way price for the shrewdies out there. One horse who could take his chance is the Nicky Henderson trained L'Ami Serge who looks set to be stepped up in trip having looked more like an Arkle horse for much of the season.

He has looked a class act at times during his career over hurdles and was a staying on 4th in the Supreme last year after not having the best trip and that alone means he is to be respected here. He was very disappointing last time out though when beaten at 1/5F in the Kingmaker at Warwick last time out which would be a worry and that run appears to have made the connections decided to step him up in trip to the JLT. He will need to improve his jumping that's for sure but L'Ami Serge certainly has an engine on him and that means he might appeal at around 10/1 each-way.

Three Musketeers is another one who may have slipped under the radar having disappointed last time out in the Dipper on New Years Day at Cheltenham. The Dan Skelton trained horse remains lightly raced and has shown that on a going day he is a classy animal at this trip. He was 3rd in the Grade 1 Mersey Novices Hurdle at Aintree last season and although he has been hit and miss over fences this season, he has been kept fresh since his last run and should be seen to best impact on the expected good ground next.

Whether Three Musketeers (16/1) has the class up against the top two in the market is debatable but he might be overpriced in terms of an each-way contender and could attract bits and pieces of money as a result.

Garde La Victoire has beaten Bristol De Mai this season and is rock solid in terms of quality and jumping but he might well go to the Arkle instead which means he can only be backed Non Runner, No Bet at this stage.


The two market leaders, Bristol De Mai and Outlander. are clearly classy horses but the JLT has the feel of a surprise winner this year. Garde La Victoire would be very attractive if he runs given his win against Bristol De Mai earlier in the season but the one we are taking here is the under the radar Three Musketeers. Dan Skelton is having a terrific season and he will be hoping the 6-year-old can run a big race with plenty in his favour.

His form this season has been in and out but when conditions fall right this is a good horse and with decent ground, his best trip and being kept fresh all in his favour, Three Musketeers could well be a big each-way player.

Tip - Three Musketeers Each-Way @ 16/1 with Ladbrokes, Hills and Betfair

JLT Novices Chase Betting - Click To Bet

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

Odds correct as of 11th Apr, 04:01 . Odds are subject to change.
Latest Horse Racing Articles
Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets
Exclusive Promo Code
New customers using Promo Code P30 only, min £10/€10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 2 x £15/€15 (30 days expiry), free bet/payment method/player/country restrictions apply. T&C's apply, 18+ begambleaware.org
Up to £100 in bet credits
Exclusive Promo Code
Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5 and 1x settled bet requirement to release Bet Credits. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&C's apply, 18+ begambleaware.org.
Bet £10 Get £30
Exclusive Promo Code
New customers only – Minimum deposit of £10 using deposit code 30F - A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £10 placed on any sports market - Minimum odds of 1/2 (1.5) - Free bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days - Free bet stakes not included in returns - Deposit balance is available for withdrawal at any time. General deposit method & withdrawal restrictions apply & full T&Cs apply.
Horse Racing £20 FREE Exchange Bet
New customers only, bet up to £/€20 on the Exchange and if your first bet loses, we’ll refund you £/€20 in Cash. Bet must be placed in first 7 days of account opening. T&Cs apply. T&C’s Apply. 18+|Gamble Aware.