The JLT Novices Chase was introduced at the festival in 2011, attaining Grade 1 status as of 2014. Taking place on Day 3 of the festival, the race sees horses compete over a distance of 2 mile 4 furlong on the new course, tackling 17 fences along the way.
As we can see from the brief history of the race, the Irish have a strong record winning 4 out of 5 previous renewals of the race. Champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins has twice scalped the prize with Sir Des Champs successful in 2012 and the exuberant Vautour dominating last year’s race.
The only English winner came in the shape of Taquin De Seuil, who Jonjo O’Neill trained to victory in the 2014 Edition.
- All five winners of this race had previously run to an RPR of above 150 over fences.
- All five winners of the race had previous course form at Cheltenham, running over hurdles at The Festival the previous year.
- All five winners had at least three previous chase starts prior to winning this race.
- All five winners of the race were rated above 140 over hurdles.
Leading Contenders: JLT Novices Chase 2016
This year is shaping up to be another exciting renewal and once again justifies the introduction of the race in 2011. The market for the race has recently been shaken up by the news that warm favourite Killultagh Vic will miss the race due to injury, leaving a somewhat more open look to the race.
Bristol De Mai
Winner of the Scilly Isle Novices chase at Sandown when last seen, the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained gelding has had an impressive start to his chasing career. He had previously shown a good level of form as a juvenile hurdler, finish a close third in the Grade 1 Juvenile hurdle at the Aintree festival last year and rightfully sits at the towards the top of the betting, however no 5yo has ever won the race.
Likely to be the leading contender for Ireland and champion trainer Willie Mullins, this 8yo has some impressive form in Ireland this season, winning his 3 chase starts to date, beating the consistent Monksland last time out. He finished a respectable sixth in last year’s Neptune, so the course and likely better ground should pose no problems and he has all the hallmarks of a horse who has improved dramatically over fences.
Another who is likely to represent trainer Willie Mullins. He ran an excellent race in the Supreme Novices at last year’s festival, chasing home the hugely exciting Douvan. He made a good start to his chasing career, notching up two easy wins at Naas and Thurles. However he was hugely disappointing last month when putting in a laboured effort when well beat by Vaniteux in the Lightening Novices chase at Doncaster. He has the potential to be a huge player if bouncing back from that effort.
Garde La Victoire
Has started off his chasing career in impressive fashion, winning 3 out of 3 over the minimum trip, which included a victory at Cheltenham. He has good form around Prestbury Park winning 3 out of 5 previous visits here. He has previously shown he possesses stamina when winning a novices hurdle over the 2mile 4 furlong trip last season and though there has been talk that he may run in the Arkle, this is arguably a weaker race and the step up in trip could unlock further improvement.
Running in the popular colours of Ann and Alan Potts, He had a positive start to his chasing career, notching up two wins from his chase starts. He then finished a well beaten second chasing home the hugely impressive Douvan. Could be given a crack over this longer trip for the first time to avoid clashing swords with Douvan once again, but has something to prove at this trip. Has the class to run a big race should he stay.
He was comfortably put in his place recently on just his second start over fences, when finishing a well beaten fourth behind Outlander. However, he can be arguably forgiven that effort as he wasn’t given a hard race when beat on ground that was probably not in his favour. Shown fair form when second in the Coral Cup last year and could well produce an improved performance on better ground. Dangerous.
Confirmed by trainer Dan Skelton recently as being very well and on target for the race, he has an unexposed look about him with only 6 career starts to his name. He last ran in the Dipper Novices chase at Cheltenham being sent off a 3/1 favourite, however he weakened fairly quickly turning for home, eventually finishing well beaten. While it must be respected that his impressive young trainer wants to run him in the race, he will need to step up on the form he has shown so far to trouble a number of these.
An exciting Novices chase, which has sadly been weakened by the injury to Killultagh Vic in recent weeks. The Irish still look to hold a strong hand with Outlander and Shaneshill being the two who look likely to go close and must be respected. Bristol De Mai will be looking to ensure the Irish don’t have it all their own way and has form that puts him in with a leading chance. However, a chance is taken that Garde La Victoire can provide a win for the Phillip Hobbs yard. He is a tough horse who has shown his liking for the track and is worth backing at current odds to provide the English with a second win in the race. Zabana, while disappointing last time in Ireland was not given a hard time once beat on ground that would not of suited, it should be no surprise to see him run a bold race.
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