Cheltenham ’13 – Jewson Novices Chase

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The Jewson Novices’ Chase is a Grade 2 chase run over a distance of two miles and four furlongs, which during its running there are seventeen fences to be negotiated.

Run on the New Course at Cheltenham, the race was established in 2011 and currently takes place on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The Irish have held the upper hand in this race so far winning both renewals, most recently with Sir Des Champs (2012) who has gone onto better things since winning this race, and is currently at the forefront of the Gold Cup betting one year on.

Given this is a novice event generally we are looking towards younger horses to come to the forefront here and with their only being two renewals of the race it is fairly hard to develop any key trends or stats to follow, that said I have come up with a couple which are potentially worth looking at.

A few stats to take a look at;
Both winners of this race had previously run to an RPR of above 150 over fences.
Both winners of the race had previous course form at Cheltenham, both running well over hurdles at The Festival the previous year.
Both winners had three previous chase starts prior to winning this race.

Captain Conan
Kingsalsa (USA)  (6.0f) — Lavandou (Sadler´s Wells (USA)  (11.4f))
Notes: Heads the market for a race which has produced some quality horses already considering it has only been around for a couple of years. A winner of the Tolworth over Hurdles and rated 147 in that sphere he has improved since being sent chasing, and has the required three chase starts prior to taking up an engagement in this race. He was made to work at Sandown last time to reel in Third Intention, but I he is better than that form suggests, and has run three times consistently above 150 with his RPR’s on his three chase starts. He is bidding to become the first English trained winning of this race and it shouldn’t be long before that happens but I do wonder whether he’ll be as effective on better ground and looks short enough to me.

Aupcharlie
Daliapour (IRE)  (16.2f) — Lirfa (USA) (Lear Fan (USA)  (10.3f))
Notes: Third in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in 2011, he had a fairly quiet hurdling campaign last season but he was always going to be a better chaser than hurdler. A facile winner of his chasing debut, he improved out of all recognition to make stable-mate Back In Focus pull out all the stops on his next start over a trip that probably stretches his stamina. I thought had he not stumbled on landing over the last he may well have held the late challenge of Back In Focus, but never-the-less it was a very solid effort in defeat. Ridden slightly differently on his next start he came off second best again, this time against Tofino Bay; who two starts ago won the Troytown Handicap Chase off a mark of 134 in a very good time. I think Aupcharlie will certainly benefit from the prospect of better ground at The Festival in March, and he will also improve for the drop back in trip. The truer pace over this distance at Cheltenham will certainly suit him, he has three chase runs on the board and an RPR over fences of 153 and for me ticks plenty of boxes.

Argocat
Montjeu (IRE)  (11.7f) — Spirit Of South (AUS) (Giant´s Causeway (USA)  (9.6f))
Notes: A five-year-old son of Montjeu from the Tom Taaffe stable who to me looks fairly short at around the 20-1 mark. He is some way off the main protagonists in this race based on his level of form over fences to date, and was a well beaten ninth in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at The Festival last season. Although this looks his chief target I would be quite surprised were he good enough to win this to be honest, and I’ll certainly be looking elsewhere for the winner.

Module
Panoramic  (9.7f) — Before Royale (FR) (Dauphin Du Bourg (FR ))
Notes: From the Tom George stable, this is a horse I actually like quite a lot. Fairly lightly raced with just 7 runs so far in his career but has a proven ability to win races returning 4 wins from this seven starts. He made an impressive British debut when readily taking a Cheltenham handicap hurdle off a mark of 130, the second (he beat 3.5L) ran a gallant fifth off 1lb higher at the Cheltenham Festival in the Martin Pipe Conditionals Hurdle, beaten not very far. He also beat Hinterland in that race (by 5L) who was running off the same weight (taking advantage of the 4yo allowance) who improved to return to win a handicap hurdle off 141 on his return this campaign before going chasing. Module fell on his chasing debut but travelled well for a long way but put that right when accounting for Colour Squadron by 6L on his next start over fences. His last and most recent run came at Leicester in an egg-and-spoon race where he readily accounted for inferior rivals and is much better than the result suggests. Although he hasn’t achieved an RPR above 150 his run at the course over hurdles suggests it should be well within his compass so I’m willing to forgive him that – he rates a serious prospect.

OTHERS
Tap Night looks to be heading in this direction after an impressive display at Ayr this afternoon. A grade two winner over hurdles last campaign he claimed the scalp of Captain Conan in that sphere and whilst it is doubtful he’ll prove as good as that one over fences he has to be respected here.

Arvika Ligeonniere has entries elsewhere and at this stage it looks like he’ll be taking up an engagement in the Arkle Chase.

Whilst Third Intention made Captain Conan pull out all the stops last time out I think the track was riding to suit the Colin Tizzard trained gelding and I doubt he’ll be good enough to play a hand here.

Mikael D’Haguenet is an intriguing prospect having been as good as he was over hurdles, he didn’t take to chasing the first time round and is still prone to mistakes now. His RPR’s would give him a shout though and has to be respected but whether he actually lines up in the race is open to question.

Dynaste, Boston Bob and Fago all appears to be heading towards other engagements as opposed to running here so they can be ruled out.

VERDICT:
I think unlike majority of the races I’ve previewed this year this race looks to be between just a few principal horses and thus has been easier for me to get a handle onto what I think will win.

I think whilst he has form in the book Captain Conan is one of the horses at the Cheltenham Festival I want to be against, and to be honest I’m not entirely sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. On the face of it his performance in running down Third Intention is worth upgrading (course favouring those on the speed) but it’s his proximity to Hinterland over fences the time prior which makes me think he is beatable, and I think the two below are capable of doing just that.

I am currently torn between two horses one with proven form which fits majority of my stats above, and one who I know has the potential to do so and could end up better in time than the one with proven form.

The two in question are the Willie Mullins trained Aupcharlie, and Module who hails from the Tom George stable.

Firstly Aupcharlie has pretty much the perfect profile for this race, having run well previously at the Cheltenham Festival, albeit in 2011 he has had the required three chase starts and has posted an RPR above 150 over fences. His performance in his second to Back In Focus reads particularly well, and with the combination of stepping back in distance and better ground will make him hard to beat in my opinion.

Secondly Module is the horse with the potential. I think he is overpriced at around 14-1 in the market, and his handicap win on his debut over here is still fresh in the memory – the way he dealt with good horses off a mark of 130 is a seriously good performance, especially when you consider that most French horses take time to acclimatize into their new surroundings. He looks like he’ll appreciate coming back left-handed on decent ground with a good pace to aim at he looks a real threat.

In this instance I have no real option but to split stakes and cover both horses as I really cannot decide which horse I like more and I wouldn’t like to be against either of them in favour of the other.

1pt win Aupcharlie @ 6-1 with BetVictor (NRFB*)
1pt win Module @ 14-1 with Betfred, Ladbrokes, Coral, WilliamHill
*BetVictor currently offering Non-runner free bet

One of many racing enthusiasts around the globe, love both flat and national hunt racing. Part-own a racehorse, and used to be involved in a couple of slow greyhounds around the Romford circuit. Favourite NH horses would be; Kauto Star, Denman, Challenger Du Luc, Monsignor, Guitar Pete, Harchibald, Istabraq - the list is effectively endless....@OHRacing Google+

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