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Yorkhill To Face Top Notch Opponent In The JLT Novices Chase

Friday 24th February 2017

The JLT Novices Chase is the latest race to come under scrutiny ahead of the Cheltenham Festival. Russell Palmer (@rustyboy75) shines a light on all of the main players and comes up with a big race selection...

Having written a Stayers Hurdle ante-post preview for the site as few weeks ago, I met some criticism for tipping up the 13/8 favourite Unowhatimeanharry. The reason being is that even at 13/8 I thought the price represented value in a non runner no bet market (I still do!) where the horse looked pretty bombproof against rivals with plenty of questions to answer.

So here I am penning a preview for the JLT Novices' Chase where we're once again faced with a short priced favourite. The difference being this time the price of 2/1 about Yorkhill offers very little in the way of value.

Don't get me wrong, the horse could be a superstar and connections are very bullish about his chances and he was an excellent winner here in the Neptune twelve months ago.

However, we've seen enough from his two runs over fences to suggest he's not a natural jumper and unlike the Arkle this novice chase looks packed with depth. He also holds an entry in the Arkle but the likelihood is that he turns up in this race and goes off pretty short on the day.

The Nicky Henderson trained Top Notch is next in the betting. As big as 20/1 earlier this year his win in the Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown earlier this month has seen a massive cut in the prices (best price 5/1).

Beaten a neck in the 2015 Triumph Hurdle and fifth in last year's Champion Hurdle he's done very little wrong over fences. Beaten on his chase debut at Uttoxeter behind some smart types he clearly needed the run and the two miles was a touch on the sharp side.

Can Top Notch Claim JLT Glory?
Can Top Notch Claim JLT Glory?

The six year old has subsequently won four on the bounce and although prior to the Sandown success he was fully entitled to win well, it was the manor of his jumping which was eye-catching and could give him the edge over Yorkhill at Cheltenham.  

Jumping is very much the remit of Disko who really impressed last time out when landing a Grade 1 at Leopardstown. Beaten in behind Our Duke over three miles at Christmas he reversed the form here over 2m5f bowling along from the front to land the prize. The Noel Meade trained five year old also holds an entry in the RSA but if he turns up here he's definitely one for the shortlist.

Trading around the same price as Disko is the Paul Nicholls trained Politologue. Hacking up on debut over fences he picked up a Grade 2 win at Ascot with an excellent round of jumping before getting picked off at Haydock giving weight to the aptly names Waiting Patiently of Malcolm Jefferson's.

Bouncing back last time at Kempton, Paul Nicholls confirmed on Tuesday that he'll line up in the JLT. 

Elsewhere in the betting Coney Island trained by Ed Harty would be an interesting runner should he line up. The win in the Drinmore Chase in December was very eye-catching although the form hasn't necessarily held up as of yet and he was beaten half a length by Our Duke on his last start at Christmas over three miles.

Entered in both the JLT and RSA Chase, the Flemensfirth gelding is as short as 9/2 non runner no bet for the former. 

Nicky Henderson also runs Whisper who is an interesting contender at bigger prices. Nine year olds don't tend to win novice chases at the Festival but this lad absolutely loves Cheltenham, winning four times at the track including his two chase starts this season. He has Festival form landing the Coral Cup in 2014. Rated 167 over hurdles he looks an interesting pick at each way prices.

In a really tough race for punters there are a few that stand out at bigger prices. I'd love for Kim Bailey to push Charbel up in trip and go down the JLT route. He beat Top Notch at the beginning of the season over two miles and realistically isn't going to beat Altior if lining up in the Arkle. Fifth in the Supreme last season which looks a blistering hot race I'd be very interested if he lines up.

Good luck to punters here. If we can get the top half dozen lining up then it will be the best novice chase of the meeting, with Top Notch taken to down the favourite Yorkhill.


Top Notch - 5/1 Betfair
Charbel  - each-way - 10/1 NRNB Paddy Power

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.
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