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The JLT Novices' Chase (1:30pm) is a Grade 2 listed weight-for-age chase run over two and a half miles. The total prize-pool in 2016 is £100,000 and the race will be run on Thursday, March 17.

The race was a new event for the 2011 Cheltenham Festival, not to be confused with the old Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase, which has been renamed the Pulteney Land Investments Novices' Handicap Chase and is now Tuesday's seventh race.

This new contest gives the leading novice chasers an additional middle distance opportunity between the Grade 1 Arkle Chase (run over two miles) and the Grade 1 RSA Chase (run over an extended three miles).

2018 JLT Novices' Chase Tips

Terrefort can win the JLT Novices' Chase for Nicky Henderson.

Brian Healy gives his best bet and each-way selection for the day three opener on Cheltenham Festival Thursday, the JLT Novices' Chase.

The third day of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival kicks off at the usual 1.30pm start time with more Grade One action in the shape of the JLT Novices’ Chase.

The 2m 4f contest boasts a winners’ prize in excess of £80,000 and a typically strong field will go to post for the day three curtain raiser which has seen Willie Mullins win the last three renewals of the race with stars such as Vautour, Black Hercules and Yorkhill.

Sir Des Champs also won for the County Carlow trainer back in 2012, and the Irish maestro will have another strong hand to go to battle with.

The Graham Wylie-owned Invitation Only (7/2, William Hill) is likely to lead the charge for Mullins, and the Flemensfirth gelding would be bidding to give connections a third straight win with the famous gold and black colours having been carried to victory previously by both Yorkhill and Black Hercules.

An early faller on his chase debut, he struck impressive wins the next twice at Navan and Punchestown, landing a Grade Three contest at the latter; he subsequently stepped up on that effort to find only Monalee and stablemate AL BOUM PHOTO (8/1, Ladbrokes) too strong in the Flogas Novices’ Chase at Leopardstown, and he will go close with a repeat of that effort.

The Buck’s Boum gelding has the choice of this race or the RSA Chase the previous day, but this contest could well prove more suitable than the Wednesday feature.

A Grade Two winner over hurdles last term at Fairyhouse, three miles may have stretched him at Punchestown next time; he has since taken well to chasing, scoring on his debut at Navan with a defeat of Tycoon Prince, and he looked the likeliest winner of a Grade Two contest at Limerick over Christmas when falling at the last fence where he was still travelling well under David Mullins.

He bounced back from that fall to push Monalee close in the Flogas Novices’ Chase, finishing just ahead of stablemate Invitation Only, and he might well have won had he not made a couple of late mistakes. He kept on strongly to land the silver medal, and the stiff finish at Cheltenham will surely suit given the way he finished off that Leopardstown contest.

He could prove the pick of the Mullins cohort if lining up for this race in preference to the others, and no surprise to see him going close.

Modus (15/2, Ladbrokes) has won three of his four chase starts, including a Wincanton Grade Two contest; but he has also fallen at Exeter, and all his wins have come in small fields. He won easily at Kempton last time, but this is much tougher. 

Benatar (10/1, Boylesport) and Finian’s Oscar (9/1, Ladbrokes) are closely matched on their Ascot clash in the Noel Novices’ Chase just before Christmas, where Gary Moore’s charge came out narrowly on top to extend his unbeaten record over fences to three wins.

He had previously beaten Keeper Hill - a subsequent Grade Two winner - easily at Doncaster, and having looked for a brief moment at Ascot to be outpaced, he came with a storming run to deny Colin Tizzard’s charge, jumping well. 

The Tizzard runner went in snatches on his return to hurdles at Cheltenham, and he may have failed to see out three miles in the ground; a wind operation and a return to a shorter trip could make the difference in the Oscar gelding, and there ought not to be much between the pair again, although Colin Tizzard’s charge hasn’t looked the most natural of jumpers over the larger obstacles.

One slight negative to the chances of Gary Moore’s charge may be a lack of a recent run; that Ascot performance was his last outing, and a three-month absence to carry into such a hot contest may just find him lacking here.

It was hard though not to have been impressed by Nicky Henderson’s TERREFORT (8/1, Boylesport) when that one got the better of subsequent Pendil Novices’ Chase winner Cyrname to win the Scilly Isles’ Novices’ Chase at Sandown, and the Martaline gelding ought to have plenty of improvement to come after just two UK chase starts.

A very useful chaser in France for Guillame Macaire, winning twice at Clairefontaine, he made a taking introduction at Huntingdon where he slammed a decent yardstick in Bentelimar by ten lengths; subseuquently thrust into the Grade One contest at Sandown, he travelled and jumped well throughout, and he dug deep to hold off Paul Nicholls’ rival to score by a neck, hinting that there was plenty more in the tank to come.

The pair went at it from a good way out, and for him to jump as well as he did under the pressure exerted by his rival suggests that he will thrive here where a premium will be put on solid jumping, and open to plenty of further improvement after just two starts he could well double his Grade One tally.

Soft and heavy ground hold no fears, as he won on heavy ground in France; while the ground at Sandown was also plenty soft enough, and he appeared to relish getting his toe into the groud. He is yet to experience quicker ground, but with the long-range forecast predicting plenty of rain ahead of the Festival, he ought not to be inconvenienced by the conditions underfoot which are unlikely to dry out significantly enough to pose concern.

Top Notch finished runner-up for the same connections twelve months ago, but the ex-French trainer horse looks a very exciting prospect judged on that excellent Sandown performance, and he can go one better than his high-class stablemate to take this prize back to Seven Barrows.


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JLT Novices' Chase Facts

Cheltenham’s Director of Racing, Simon Claisse said: “We have always maintained that we would extend the number of races at The Festival if the right contest could be identified which would not diminish the overall quality of the meeting, and would get the support of trainers, owners and breeders.

“A weight for age novices’ chase over two and a half miles has been at the top of the list for some time and we have agreed with the British Horseracing Authority that it will be introduced in 2011.

“An additional race at The Festival is good news for the industry. It gives another winning opportunity for jockeys, trainers, owners and stable staff; it gives our customers at Cheltenham better value and it is bound to produce more betting turnover, which means more Levy."

Bradley Moore, Marketing Services Director of Jewson, the UK’s leading supplier of sustainable timber and building materials, added: "We are delighted to be renewing our association with Cheltenham for a further three years by moving our backing to the Grade 2 Jewson Novices’ Chase at The Festival.

“We are proud that our support of the Novices’ Handicap Chase over the last few years has helped prove the case for this new Grade 2 race for two and a half mile novice chasers."

Recent Winners

2016        Yorkhill 6/4 (fav)
2016        Black Hercules
2015        Windsor Park
2014        Taquin Du Seuil
2013 Benefficient
2012 Sir Des Champs
2011 Noble Prince

2012 Jewson Novices' Chase Review

This new race received a significant boost with the victory of SIR DES CHAMPS, who promises to be top-class, and future renewals look set to similarly classy. 

The Irish raider was also one of the best-backed winners at the meeting, going off at just 3/1, and those who had got involved had few anxious moments with the Willie Mullins-trained gelding coming home four and a half lengths clear of Champion Court. For Non Stop was a further nine lengths away in fourth.

The disappointment of the race was Peddlers Cross, who had finished runner-up in the previous season's Champion Hurdle and had looked a useful recruit to chasing when winning twice at Bangor earlier in the season. In the end, the 5/2 favourite trailed home in eighth, having made several errors.

2011 Jewson Novices' Chase Review

Legendary jockey AP McCoy partnered Noble Prince (4-1) to victory in the Jewson Novices' Chase for his first winner at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival, and his 200th of the season.

The champion jockey swept past Richard Johnson and Wishfull Thinking (7-2 favourite) at the final fence and powered clear for a mightily impressive four-length success.

High class second Wishfull Thinking put in a super round of jumping until a mistake at the last, with Henry de Bromhead's Loosen My Load (11-2) a further five lengths back in third.

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