JLT Novices' Chase betting tips for the 1.30pm Cheltenham Thursday 13th March, free predictions Cheltenham 2014.
The opening race of Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival is the 2m4f JLT Novices’ Chase. Run over 2m4f this race has been won by last year’s Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs and Benefficient, a leading contender for the Ryanair Chase. Here are my thoughts on what looks to be a very competitive race.
Nicky Henderson enters Oscar Whisky (6/1 bet365), who is a trip specialist being a two time Aintree Hurdle winner. After three poor runs at the Festival, Henderson has now decided to run him over fences of which he has won three our of four starts over the larger obstacles. He has saw off Jonjo O’Neill’s Taquin De Seuil and Paul Nicholls’ Wonderful Charm, however last time out on bad ground at Sandown his jumping looked very poor with only his class getting him home as the victor. For me, on form he has a chance but his record at the Festival doesn’t particularly appeal and I think others will beat him today.
Despite being beaten by Oscar Whisky, one horse I really like is WONDERFUL CHARM (6/1 BetVictor). On that occasion he lost by less than a length despite having to give 8lbs to the Nicky Henderson runner. Paul Nicholls is very bullish about this horses chances, stating that the more the ground drys out the better this horse will run. He travels particularly impressively with a good natural jumping ability and he should go very close on his best form.
Sizing Gold (12/1 Stan James) for the powerful Henry De Bromhead is another who could have a very good chance. I think that he’s a horse that would prefer much better ground, despite having achieved success on soft ground in Ireland. His debut over the larger obstacles was fantastic, jumping soundly and quickening up well for an easy win. A slight negative is a lack of Cheltenham form and that could well make the difference in the end.
Willie Mullins has been in fabulous form already this week. He has three entrants here with his leading contender – Felix Younger (4/1 Betfred) piloted by Ruby Walsh. This horse has won three times already this season with his best performance when beating Trifolium by a huge 15 lengths. Since that victory, his form has been disappointing, finishing second twice and having the form reversed by Trifolium.
Another Willie Mullins runner entered is Rich Ricci’s – Djakadam (10/1 Coral). He’s had a good novice campaign, winning the Grade 2 Killiney Novices Chase at Leopardstown beating Dessie Hughes’ Bright New Dawn. That was over 2m5f so he’s sure to cope well with the Cheltenham stamina test. If he performs on the good ground (all his best form is on soft) he should have a good chance and could be of interest for e/w backers.
It’s obviously noteworthy that AP McCoy will be on Jonjo O’Neill’s Taquin De Seuil (9/1 BetVictor) instead of the JP McManus owned Uxizandre (28/1 Coral). Taquin De Seuil has looked very good this season, having two gruelling battles with Oscar Whisky already. On his last start he cantered to a 17 length win at Haydock putting in an impressive display to claim a Grade 2 victory. He may well be another who would prefer the ground to be slower than it is and he might lack the tactical speed to go with the leaders.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has had a lot of success with Double Ross (14/1 Betfred) this year. He’s been running in handicaps and returns to novice company for the first time since October. He’s performed well winning twice on the bounce at Cheltenham before finishing second on his last attempt. He looks a solid horse but may well lack some of the talent possessed by other runners in this race.
WONDERFUL CHARM has been a consistent performer in each of his four starts this season. The drying ground is a massive positive and trainer Paul Nicholls is extremely confident of his chance. His loss to Oscar Whisky was mightily impressive considered he gave away 8lbs and his solid form at Cheltenham will be a huge advantage.
WONDERFUL CHARM (WIN) (6/1 BetVictor)
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