Cheltenham tips: Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey reveal antepost picks for Marsh Novices’ Chase

The Marsh Novices' Chase is the opening race on Thursday's card at the Cheltenham Festival

Ruby Walsh & Frank Hickey

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Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey have previewed this year’s Marsh Novices’ Chase ahead of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival – where Paddy Power is non-runner money back on all races.

Speaking on the second episode of the special Countdown To Cheltenham podcast, our main men can’t see past the unbeaten Envoi Allen for the 2m4f test.

You can listen to the full show BELOW.

Ruby Walsh

A relatively new race and the most perfect horse in training – ENVOI ALLEN – is an odds-on shot. I said I wouldn’t be backing Shishkin at odds-on in the Arkle, but I’d have no worries on that score for Envoi Allen who won’t be running again before this contest on March 18. He’s unbeaten so far in his bumper, hurdles and chasing career, so what’s going to beat him now?

The Dan Skelton-trained SHAN BLUE has made the running the last couple of times, but Envoi Allen may be better getting a lead, so he has options. He looks a stronger play to me than Shishkin at this stage.

Now, there’s no way Willie Mullins will put all his eggs in the Arkle Chase basket so JANADIL, FRANCO DE PORT, BLACKBOW or even ASTERION FORLONGE (who fell at the first at Punchestown against Envoi Allen the last day) could line up.

Saturday’s Haydock winner ROYAL PAGAILLE could have an entry, but I don’t really think he’ll drop back to 2m4f. If anything, he could be a horse for the 3m6f National Hunt Chase, if they don’t want to step into open company or aim really high and go for the Gold Cup.

Envoi Allen looks very hard to oppose and is nearly ‘value’ at the price in the non-runner money back market.




Frank Hickey

ENVOI ALLEN was 6/1 for the Marsh Chase after winning the Ballymore at Cheltenham last year, and people got stuck in there. In our antepost book he is by far the worst result and since we’ve gone non-runner money back he is the only one punters want to back. Over 80 per cent of stakes are on him, even though he is a short price. People can’t see what beats him.

I went through what might run in the race, and I can only find six; Envoi Allen, Allart, Fusil Raffles, GA Law, Hitman and Shan Blue. You just can’t see any of the others beating Envoi Allen.

In last year’s Ballymore, coming down to the second last you might have thought that he was in a spot of bother but he won quite easily in the end. You would much rather take odds-on with Envoi Allen than you would Shishkin in the Arkle.

If Envoi Allen wins the Marsh relatively comprehensively, you would think he would be 5/1 or thereabouts for the Gold Cup next year. It wouldn’t be something that would interest me but you would be surprised by how many people would want to get on that bet.

Fusil Raffles Daryl Jacob Cheltenham October 23, 2020

Because he is such a strong favourite for the Marsh, I can see us putting up the ‘Betting without Envoi Allen’ market quite early. I would then be looking at something like FUSIL RAFFLES. Even if you wanted to back him non-runner money back each-way, he is three from four over fences and he was quite good when he won at Uttoxeter on his chase debut. He beat Quick Grabim and Gumball relatively easily.

He followed that up at Cheltenham over 2m beating Sir Valentine and Getaway Trump. He didn’t get going at all in the Grade 2 at the Paddy Power meeting at Cheltenham and was pulled up but he bounced back when stepped up to 2m4f in December meeting, beating Lieutenant Rocco and Chantry House. He was conceding 8lbs to the second and 3lbs to third. He won despite the ground that day but wants better ground. If it comes up good to soft I could easily see him hitting the frame in a race that could cut up.

Marsh Novices’ Chase bet summary – Thursday, March 18

Ruby Walsh – Envoi Allen

Frank Hickey – Envoi Allen/Fusil Raffles (without Envoi Allen)

Cheltenham 2021

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