2022 Festival Novices’ Chase Ante-Post Preview – Beacon May Have the Edge At 14/1

Beacon Edge and Denis O'Regan after winning the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse

Beacon Edge and Denis O’Regan after winning the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse

2022 Festival Novices’ Chase Ante-Post Preview

Our expert has delved through the current state of play in the Festival Novices’ Chase betting market, identifying a selection available at odds of 14/1! Check out their thoughts below, and why not also check out our Ryanair Chase Preview too.

Festival Novices’ Chase (16th March 2022)

Known this year as the Festival Novices’ Chase for the first time, this three-mile novice championship saw Monkfish cruise home to justify favouritism last season. However, the season before, it was those so narrowly vanquished in the race that saw success the following year; Champ may have won the 2020 renewal in extraordinary circumstances, but Minella Indo (2nd) won the 2021 Gold Cup, while Allaho (3rd) won the Ryanair.

Last season’s winning trainer, Willie Mullins, will be hoping that a horse of the calibre of Monkfish may emerge once again. That horse could well be Galopin Des Champs, who progressed at a rate of knots towards the end of 2020/21. 

He may have taken some time to acclimatise to Closutton, as he failed to win any of his first three starts, although improved in the last of those to be sixth in a Grade 1 to Appreciate It at the Dublin Racing Festival.

However, as soon as he stepped up in trip, he became a different animal, winning the Martin Pipe at last year’s Festival, as many talented inmates of Willie Mullins’ have. He saved the best until last at Punchestown, though, winning the Grade 1 Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle by 12 lengths. We await his imminent chasing debut with excitement.

The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle is often a springboard to this race in a year’s time: all of Bobs Worth, Lord Windermere and Monkfish won that race the season before taking this. As such, Vanillier is likely to be popular after his romp in that race in March. 

His chase debut did not go entirely to plan at Down Royal in October, but the shorter distance was probably inadequate for him. Stepped up in trip in Grade 2 company at Punchestown last month, he made amends, winning by 26 lengths. 

We know he likes Cheltenham and we know he has bags of stamina. All there is to add is experience in the jumping department and he should be a real player.

Meanwhile, the British contingent for this race looks considerably stronger than in other championship contests. Challenging Galopin Des Champs for antepost favouritism are both Bravemansgame and Ahoy Senor.

Bravemansgame’s participation may rest on two factors. He is entered in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, which will be his first effort at three miles over fences. Although less of a stamina test than the undulations at Cheltenham, it will give a far greater indication as to whether he has the resolve for this trip.

Moreover, despite his performances being dazzling so far, there is the shadow of Bob Olinger in his other potential commitment, the Marsh Novices’ Chase, over half-a-mile shorter. He has certainly looked the better jumper of the two so far, but there was no contest between them in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in March. For Bob, this race is surely his reserve option behind the Marsh.

Ahoy Senor has undoubtedly put in the best performance of any in this division so far. Had he been trained by Nicholls or Mullins, he’d probably be clear favourite, but Lucinda Russell won’t mind hm being slightly underestimated.

He wiped the floor with Bravemansgame at Aintree after all. That was in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April, but his victory at Newbury on Ladbrokes Trophy day was something to behold. He pulverised his rivals by 31 lengths and that despite taking a while to warm to his jumping. If he can maintain some fluency, he could be a monstrous prospect.

Nevertheless, those four have the lingering doubts of absence, ability, priority and jumping to make them short enough prices. Currently a best-priced 14/1, BEACON EDGE makes more appeal than the lot. 

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All of the aforementioned were novice hurdlers last season, while Noel Meade’s seven-year-old has the advantage of having had a year in open company in that sphere. He made the most of it, finishing third and fourth in the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace and Cheltenham Stayers Hurdles, as well as winning Navan’s Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle.

Things did not immediately click on his chasing debut when second to Lifetime Ambition, but he made amends in incredible style in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase. Over 2m4f, he looked outpaced from a long way out, but stuck gamely to his task, overhauling another Gigginstown-owned runner in Fury Road up the run-in at Fairyhouse.

His jumping was generally measured, although occasionally careful that day. It is also notable that he has run wide on both his chase starts as if to give him the best sight of every fence. One gets the feeling his victory in the Drinmore was a bonus in his fencing education and a step up in trip looks almost guaranteed.

Ultimately, we know Beacon Edge is capable of a high level of performance and while the likes of Bravemansgame and Ahoy Senor are exciting, they have only ever met opposition of a similar level of experience.

Beacon Edge, however, has got the t-shirt and 14/1 is a more than fair price.

Big Race Verdict

BEACON EDGE – Festival Novices’ Chase

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