Cheltenham Festival: It’s an act of lunacy to have a bet on the Turners’ Novices Chase just yet

With the Dublin Racing Festival on this weekend, Ruby reckons the novice chase division will become a lot clearer after it.

Ruby Walsh Cheltenham


*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules

Cheltenham Festival 2023 is six weeks away and racing fans will be looking for a little bit of insight into every race, so we’ve got jump jockey icon turned tactical guru Ruby Walsh and top pundit Rory Delargy with us every week to hopefully get you more bang for your buck.

The Turners Novices’ Chase looks a wide-open affair on Thursday, March 16th and Ruby agrees.


RUBY WALSH: Turners Novices’ Chase Preview

I know this is a Cheltenham Countdown but to be honest, having a bet on the Turners Novices’ Chase before the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend is a form of lunacy! We mightn’t even find out at the weekend who is the best novice chaser in Willie Mullins’ yard.

The one that’s won the most races is Appreciate It, he’s two from two. Sir Gerhard’s only won one, James Du Berlais only one, El Fabiolo once, Dysart Dynamo once, Flame Bearer once, Bronn once and Gaiilard Du Mesnil has only won once, as has Kilcruit.

Fair enough, Adamantly Chosen has won twice but would I put him ahead of any of the above in the pecking? No.

On the bare figures, Appreciate It is two from two – so technically he’s achieved the most.

He won his Beginners Chase over 2m at Punchestown and then a Novice Chase at Naas over the same trip. If he lines up at the Dublin Racing Festival you’d think he’ll run over 2m or 2m 1f. How he runs at Leopardstown this weekend, will then determine where he goes next and what trip.

If he’s a fast-finishing second, the obvious thing will be to step him up in trip to 2m 4f or so and that brings in the Turners Novices Chase. If he’s well and truly on top before he turns into the straight at Leopardstown, you’d think he’s an Arkle Chase horse, as he’d have shown the speed to get his rivals in trouble a long way out.

A lot will be revealed at the weekend.

I don’t know if there’s a hard and fast rule.

Douvan ran in the Supreme Novices Hurdle and ran in the Arkle a year later. Vautour won the Supreme Novices Hurdle but went for the Turners’ Novices Chase.  Un De Sceaux didn’t run at the Festival as a novice hurdler but won the Arkle Chase over two miles.

The Dublin Racing Festival will reveal a lot and I’m not going to necessarily buy into a belief that 2m 1f winners at Leopardstown are out-and-out Arkle horses at Cheltenham. You see a lot of them coming from off the pace to win at Leopardstown which always suggested to me that they want to go further when they go  to Cheltenham.

The Arkle at Cheltenham is just under 2m. Leopardstown is a strong 2m 1f and the ones that are ‘getting up’ close home at Leopardstown should be going up in trip when they go to the Cotswolds. And the others that were maybe going to win and didn’t quite hang on at Leopardstown could come back slightly in trip to just under two mile for the Arkle.

In my opinion, you do need to be in ‘control’ turning into the straight at Leopardstown to say you’re a clear two mile chaser for Cheltenham.

So a lot will depend on what happens this weekend before I can nail my colours to the mast.


Sir Gerhard made a mistake at the third fence at Gowran Park last week but he overcame that and went on to win. He was a bit careful at the next couple of fences, but he wasn’t really tested. He jumped really well – it was a pleasing start – he showed that he had the – I wouldn’t say the bottle, but the mistake didn’t rattle him. It didn’t faze him, he didn’t go to the next fence and jump way up in the air.

He got over it, built on it, he will have learnt from it, but he didn’t look to me like an Arkle horse, he definitely looked like a horse that would be going up in trip. Willie Mullins said the same so whether he goes for the Turners Novices Chase or steps further up in trip  to 3m for the Brown Advisory Chase – only time will tell. I can’t imagine that he’s going to run him in Navan in the Ten Up Chase so he’s not going to be qualified for the National Hunt Chase, I don’t think he even has an entry?

James Du Berlais has had just the one run over fences – he absolutely hosed up when he beat Capilano Bridge, who is a bonny little horse. He started over 2m 5f at Fairyhouse. He is forward going, a good jumper and you’d probably think the 2m 4f of the Turners Novices Chase would be ideal for him. A lot will depend on how El Fabiolo gets on at the weekend. What he does will determine where he ends up. They’re two horses in the same ownership so how El Fabiolo performs might determine where James Du Berlais ends up!

There’s a couple in the UK who could be possibles too and Paul Nicholls’ Stage Star’s jumping has improved with every run this year. He looked very at home when winning at Cheltenham at the weekend. He won that handicap off 142, so he’s going to get a rating up close enough to 150 now. Do I still think he has enough in hand to win a handicap off that mark? I don’t know.

He can run in a handicap next year, but he can’t run in a novice chase next year!

Joseph O’Brien’s Banbridge is a very good jumper so you automatically think if he goes up in trip, he’ll have more fences to jump. However, you only have two or three more fences in the Turners’ Novices Chase than you do in the Arkle.  It’s not as much of a jumping difference as you would expect. Jumping definitely made Banbridge a faster horse.



*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules.

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