Day three (Thursday 15th March) of the Cheltenham Festival kicks off with a middle-distance Novice Chase, won in recent years by the likes of Yorkhill, Black Hurcules and Vautour. Whilst this year’s renewal doesn’t look as classy as the Arkle or RSA, there are some very smart horses involved, including Festival winner Willoughby Court.
13:30 – Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase 2m4f
I must start by saying that the JLT at this stage looks like it will cut up quite a lot, so I think I’ve found a bit of value in the market. It was announced this morning (20/02/18) that Yanworth will run in the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham, whilst other prominent horses in the betting also will go for other targets. Footpad and Petit Mouchoir will go to the Arkle, Monalee will go for the RSA, and Finian’s Oscar might not turn up at all (Edit: Finian’s Oscar will now head for the JLT after undergoing a soft palate wind op). One horse that does look set to run is Benatar, with the 2m4f trip being ideal for this Novice. Gary Moore’s horse is unbeaten over fences so far, winning at Plumpton (Qualifying for the Cheltenham Bonus) defeating Keeper Hill by 9 lengths, who subsequently won a Grade 2 at Doncaster. This came in-between two wins at Ascot, including the Grade 2 Mitie Noel just before Christmas. He beat the aforementioned Finian’s Oscar that day in a brilliant battle, always travelling strongest and getting the job done. A rest over the harsh winter months will have done him some good, and he looks set to return in the Grade 2 Pendil Novice Chase at Kempton this weekend (Also entered at Fontwell in a Class 2 on Sunday). This will ensure the 6-year-old is in prime condition for the festival, and he will be a much shorter price if he wins this engagement. His jumping keeps on improving with every run, and he travels really well throughout his races. This exciting Novice should also thrive in the spring ground, having finished 4th in the Grade 1 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree last year.
Benatar looks a cracking bet at the prices, with the JLT his preferred race and the potential to get another Graded win under his belt this weekend at Kempton. Most of the prominent horses in this market won’t stand their ground, so this Gary Moore Novice looks set to be shorter on the day. If you are confident of a good performance this weekend like me, then the 12/1 looks huge. However, backing him at 10/1 NRNB is still a great price and will cover any dramatic mishaps that could happen at Kempton or Fontwell.
Benatar to win the JLT @ 10/1 NRNB
Or @ 12/1 without this concession.