Marsh Novices’ Chase (Grade One)
Cheltenham 13:20 18/03
A grade one chase for novices over 2 and a half miles. Of the 10 running's of this race, 8 have been won by either the favourite or second favourite; the most common winning age is 7; Irish trainers have the best record in this race; most had won their previous start before this race and every single winner had previously ran at Cheltenham with the Majority having won at the track before.
Envoi Allen. That’s all we can say here as well as being unbeaten in his 11 runs, picking up 5 Grade One’s, he also hits every stat in the trends of this race, sometimes this game is simple and the answer staring you in the face. It is no surprise for me to tell you that I will be backing him here. With Energumene and Monkfish both heading to different races the second favourite will be most likely Shan Blue. At 8/11 Envoi Allen is still good value in my opinion against this opposition I can see him starting at much longer odds on. Nearer 1/3 I imagine. The only slight concern would be the move to Henry De Bromhead since the whole Gordon Elliott incident. However, I think too much has been made of this factor. Before race day at Cheltenham these Irish horses are transported to another country and stay in unfamiliar stables for a few days anyway. They are quite adaptable creatures and I can see him taking the move in his stride.
There is one outsider who I will have an each way poke at hoping to fill on of the places behind Envoi Allen. That is Fusil Raffles of Nicky Henderson’s at 20/1 with William Hill or 16/1 elsewhere. I’ve not been convinced by Shan Blue and 8/1 would not be good value for a place in my eyes. Chantry House is again a little short but does have good previous course form. Sporting John I see as needing a little further than this he travelled like a tug boat last time out and needed every yard to get by Shan Blue staying on late. I’d lean towards the Brown Advisory if I was his connections, although he wouldn’t fare much better against Monkfish there! Chatham Street Lad has been decent enough but was comprehensively beaten by the Daly Tiger in a handicap last time out and think he’ll end up in the Paddy Power plate instead. Latest Exhibition looks to be skipping the festival entirely to head to Punchestown and Fairyhouse. Allart fell on his latest start and looks to be going to the Coral Cup.
Fusil Raffles has always been a horse I’ve liked, going back to his hurdle form, he won a Grade One in Ireland beating the Ryanair prospect for this year, Fakir D’oudairies. He also won a grade two over two miles before competing in the Champion Hurdle last year not running a bad race but being beaten into a midfield finish. Since chasing this year he won his first two starts by big enough distances, 4 and then nearly 10 lengths. He then got pulled up in the grade two November novice chase at Cheltenham where he never really travelled and was reportedly unsuited by the ground on that day. On his return from that over 2 miles 4 he bounced back beating Ultima joint favourite Lieutenant Rocco; Chantry house, who is now 10/1 for this race; and Quel Destin who was previously second in the race where Fusil was pulled up. The step up in trip to two and a half really suited as he stayed on well and got on top close home. I think if you can get 20/1 here he has done just as well if not better than some of the horses shorter than him in the market and would hope he will be one of the two chasing Envoi Allen home into second or third.
Envoi Allen 8/11 1pt win (win double with Monkfish advised on that post)
Fusil Raffles 20/1 0.5pts each way