JLT Novices’ Chase, 2m 4f, 1.30pm
Key Stat: Irish-trained horses have won four of the last five contests
This will be the third running of the race as a Group One contest and Vautour led home an Irish 1-2-3 last season. They have a host of strong candidates for top honours this season notably the Willie Mullins-trained duo of Outlander and Shaneshill. Henry de Bromhead’s Sizing John may also join them – but More of That also has an entry and could be a fascinating contender.
It’s a notable achievement that the Irish have won four of the last five contests. Considering that the Ryanair Novice Chase (Grade 1) at the Fairyhouse Easter Meeting over the same distance is just around the corner in their own backyard and some of their better novices are held back for that.
There has been no winner of a Cheltenham Festival novice chase aged over eight at up to 3m½f since 1990.
Anyone looking for a home-trained contender might want to take on board that the only British-based success to date, Taquin Du Seuil, ran in two novice chases at Cheltenham earlier in the season winning at The Open Meeting and then finished second in the Dipper Novices Chase.